PI schools to keep campuses closed; District to provide remote instruction

The Point Isabel Independent School District Board of Trustees has voted to keep the district’s schools closed for on campus and face-to-face instruction during the 2020-2021 school year until it is deemed safe for students, teachers and staff to return.

The district will engage in remote instruction instead. The PIISD school board held an emergency meeting on Friday evening via Zoom to discuss the plans for opening the schools for the fall of 2020 in wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Teri Capistran said during the public comment section of the meeting, numerous educators, parents and community members voiced concerns of reopening with face-to-face instructions due to the high number of coronavirus cases in Cameron County and the Laguna Madre area.

After hearing the concerns of the parents, educators and community members the school board unanimously voted to pass the following resolution:

“ The Point Isabel Independent School District shall remain closed for on-campus, face-to-face instruction for all school age students and shall not reopen for face-to-face instruction until further discussion and determination by the Board that it is safe for our students, faculty and staff to return.”

As of Friday, Cameron County was reporting 3,496 positive cases of COVID-19. Of that number, there were 2,404 recoveries. There were 77 cornavirus related deaths.

Capistran said the district will continue working with the Return to Learn Task Force Committee members to provide all students with the best instruction possible while ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff members.

The Texas Education Agency on Tuesday released its Comprehensive Guidelines for students to return for the 2020-2021 school year. TEA said daily on-campus learning will be available to parents who would like their children to return to the classroom.

Parents also have the option to choose remote learning for their children “initially, or at any point as the year progresses.”

Parents who choose remote instruction for their students may be asked to commit to remote instruction for a full grading period that could be six to nine week, the TEA states.

On Friday, Rene Guiterrez, superintendent for the Brownsville Independent School District, said he, other superintendents in Cameron County and the county judge’s office, are drafting a letter to be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott and TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, requesting schools in the county use distance learning during the 2020-2021 school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, also sent a letter to Abbott requesting TEA transition to virtual instruction for the upcoming school year.