EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — Select students will be allowed to return to El Paso Independent School District campuses Monday after a state mandate requiring El Paso districts to begin reopening for priority populations.
School districts were able to each define what their priority population was. For EPISD, the priority population includes students with excessive absences, failing grades in select subjects and students who have been identified as having extenuating circumstances.
EPISD officials told ABC-7 that 2,092 students are expected to return to campus. More were invited back, but chose to continue learning at home. Parents are always given the option to keep students learning remotely, officials said.
Students who return will be placed in learning pods on campus. Teachers will continue to teach them remotely, but essential staff members will be on campus to supervise students. A district spokeswoman said that staff members who have concerns about returning to campus due to their health should contact their human resources department.
On campus, students will be spaced physically apart and everyone will be required to wear a face covering. Everyone will also undergo a health screening before entering the campus. A district spokeswoman says that screening should start at home so no one arrives at school sick.
“If your child is sick, experiencing any symptoms, sore throat, cough, fever, please do not send them to campus,” said Melissa Martinez, EPISD’s Chief Communications Officer. “They will not be marked absent. They still can log on remotely. Communicate with your teacher to let them know what is going on, but first and foremost is that we all have to practice self-screening before we go to work or school for the day.”
While the new state reopening plan requires districts to reopen to priority groups, districts are allowed to remain closed for general student populations until El Paso’s coronavirus hospitalization rates improve. The next reopening phase for Borderland districts will be required when El Paso has a coronavirus hospitalization rate of less than 20%. El Paso had a rate of 48% as of Monday morning.