Family of teen who took test in hazmat suit said district isn't taking COVID-19 seriously

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Spring Branch ISD family said the district isn't taking the pandemic seriously enough. The family wanted the district to waive a requirement that virtual learners take some of their final exams on campus.

Mason Kalkofen and his parents, Margarita and Karl, told Eyewitness News he showed up to Spring Woods High School Wednesday in full personal protective gear. They worried about him contracting the virus on campus and spreading it to his mother who is at high risk and could suffer severe medical complications.

"I'm having to go in a hazmat suit," said Mason. "That way I can protect my family."

Mason's mother and father told ABC13 they tried every avenue to get the district to make an exemption. They also noted they've received multiple letters this month about positive cases on campus.

"I don't want to get sick," said Margarita. "I don't want to end up in a hospital. I don't want my husband to end up in the hospital because the school district doesn't care."

SEE ALSO: 'I don't feel safe' Families worried about in-person finals in Spring Branch ISD

Spring Branch ISD released a lengthy statement to ABC13. They said they're following state guidelines and safety is of at most importance during this pandemic.

"Spring Woods High School has worked with the families of distance learners to provide testing accommodations for approximately 50 students. Starting today, these students will be dropped off at the high school after in-person learning students have left the campus. Students will test outdoors at individual tables set 10 feet apart. Before entering the high school courtyard, temperatures will be taken of all testing students. PPE, hand sanitizers and other LearnSBISD health and safety protocols will be in place from required facial masks to proper social distancing. One adult test proctor will be assigned per six students.

Regarding the family that contacted your team, Spring Woods High School has offered the family multiple testing options, including the option of the student testing alone in a room with only one proctor present wearing PPE. The family refused all options.

Spring Branch ISD high school principals have been committed to working with families who have testing concerns or unique situational needs. The district places a high priority on academic integrity along with its single-focused goal known as T-2-4 where every district graduate will attain a technical certificate, military training, or a 2- or 4-year college degree. In this regard, we agree with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) guidance allowing districts to require students to come on campus to complete required assessments that play a significant role in determining class rank, or as required for graduation or grade-level promotion, where it cannot be reasonable and equitably administered remotely. SBISD testing will follow the health and safety guidelines of the LearnSBISD plan.

Total enrollment at Spring Woods High is 2,064 students. The total number of COVID cases so far this school year is 25, with 17 students and 8 employees reporting positive. This represents less than 1 percent (0.82 percent) of Spring Woods High students who have reported testing positive."

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