CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi Independent School District Superintendent Roland Hernandez has been preparing for Tuesday for months, planning for the upcoming CCISD school year while monitoring local COVID-19 case counts.
Despite the increasing numbers, though, Hernandez said he's confident that the district's first day back will be a good one.
“I think there’s a lot of anxiety, but I think everyone’s ready," he said. "We’ve had a lot of hard-working people, over the course of the summer, getting ready for this big day tomorrow.”
Hernandez urged CCISD parents who have children who are 12 years old and older to get their kids vaccinated.
And while Texas governor Greg Abbott's order doesn't allow CCISD to enforce a mask mandate, he hopes parents will still send their kids off to school with face coverings.
"We’re keeping our masks," Hernandez said. "While we can’t require them, they certainly are encouraged — strongly encouraged — across the district at all levels."
Other precautions the district is taking include keeping plexiglass shields on students' desks, and encouraging them to sanitize their workspaces several times throughout the class day.
The district will also report to parents if COVID-19 cases pop up, and conduct contact tracing in hopes of identifying students who were possibly exposed to the novel coronavirus.
"Those procedures made a big difference in keeping good tracking of our numbers and monitoring (last school year)," Hernandez said. "And we’re going to continue to do that as we start tomorrow.”
A change from last year is remote learning: CCISD will not offer students the option to attend classes from home over the Internet, because the district says the state didn't provide funding for it.
"Additionally, last year’s experience confirmed that students learn best when physically in the classroom," he also said in a statement. "We will be able to offer remote instruction for students who are quarantining, although it will generally be limited to 20 days over the course of the school year, address core subjects and be taught by teachers who are working in this format only."
SEE SETH KOVAR'S FULL INTERVIEW WITH CCISD SUPERINTENDENT ROLAND HERNANDEZ HERE:
No parents showed up at Monday's CCISD school board meeting to voice concerns about COVID-19, but Hernandez said after the meeting that he knows concerns are out there.
He's hopeful that with the lessons learned during the last school year, that this year will be even more successful and safe.
“We really have pretty much picked up where we left off last year," he said. "We’re not starting the school year with dropping our guard whatsoever."