By Gaige Davila
When the school year begins for Point Isabel ISD students this year, routines will be the same, even if they’re not in a classroom.
PI-ISD Superintendent Theresa Capistran told the PRESS that PI-ISD students, when they return to school remotely on August 24, will have a schedule like they did on campus, complete with virtual attendance taking and class times, at least for the first four weeks.
“We want there to be as smooth a transition as possible,” Capristan said.
After four weeks, or on September 21, PI-ISD’s school board will meet, deciding whether it is safe for students to return to in-person instruction. If board members decide to delay in-person instruction another four weeks, any subsequent delays must apply for waivers from the Texas Education Agency. PI-ISD’s goal is to return to in-person instruction by the second six weeks period, which starts October 5.
But that decision is pending decreasing COVID-19 cases locally, along with county and state health officials deeming it is safe to return to campus, which are what Capistran said is most guiding their planning for reopening campuses.
On July 14, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, Jr., and Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo ordered delaying in-person instruction until after September 8, including extracurricular activities like band and athletics. The state overruled a county’s health authority to delay in-person learning, however.
The University Interscholastic League (UIL), however, says extracurricular activities will start on schedule for 1A-4A school districts, with the first volleyball game on August 10 and the first football game on August 27.
Capistran and PI-ISD Athletic Director Tony Villarreal virtually met with UIL officials in July soon after the UIL calendar was announced, asking them to consider delaying 1A-4A school districts’ fall sport schedules to September. More Rio Grande Valley school districts hopped on to the plea, gaining support from Judge Treviño. UIL ultimately denied delaying 1A-4A districts’ sport schedules, Capistran said.
This past week, Capistran and Villarreal held a virtual meeting with staff from Texas Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., Texas Rep. Alex Dominguez, and U.S. Representative Filemon Vela’s offices, asking them to advocate for delaying 1A-4A school athletics schedules to September.
After his meeting with Capistran and Villarreal, Rep. Vela sent a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath and UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt on August 4, urging them to delay the 1A-4A district athletic calendar.
“A “normal” fall semester is increasingly unlikely for students as we see the continued spread and increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the Rio Grande Valley and the entire state of Texas,” Vela said in the letter. “This blatant disregard for the safety of personnel at 1A-4A schools will not only likely result in increased COVID-19 cases in these already vulnerable communities, but also increase the chances of possible injuries among student athletes.”
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