More Texas schools release COVID-19 protocols ahead of 2021-2022 school year

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Private schools in Texas have more flexibility with COVID-19 protocols as cases rise, while public schools are getting creative in ways to keep kids safe.

WITH COVID-19 CASES RISING, CAN SCHOOLS IMPLEMENT MASK MANDATES?

In March, Gov. Greg Abbott signed an order not allowing schools to implement mask mandates past the beginning of June. Despite surging cases with the delta variant, Abbott recently said he wouldn't reverse course.

"Gov. Abbott has been clear that we must rely on personal responsibility, not government mandates," Abbott's press secretary, Renae Eze, said in a statement last week to ABC13.

Despite not having a mask mandate, schools can still allow students to wear masks. In fact, every district has finalized a protocol and shared it with ABC13. Their protocols show it allows students to wear masks, and some even plan to teach students how to wear them correctly.

The governor also won't let schools mandate vaccines, but that's not the case with private schools.

At Xavier Academy in Houston, nearly all of its eligible students are vaccinated.

"We've mandated that all our employees, teachers and staff be vaccinated," said David Garner, the Xavier Academy director. "So, we have a 100% vaccination rate among our teachers and staff."

WHAT ARE SCHOOLS DOING TO KEEP KIDS SAFE?

Many districts are starting to release their final COVID-19 protocols with school set to start in August. Galveston ISD will have common area physical distancing. It added that meals during school hours can be consumed in classrooms, outside, or at a safe distance in the cafeteria as determined by the district.

At Spring Branch ISD, there will be more hand sanitizers, and it will teach kids how to sneeze correctly.

Alvin ISD also said it's training students how to wash hands, sneeze, and wear a mask.

Friendswood ISD dropped the perfect attendance award so kids will stay home if they feel sick.

Both Fort Bend and Conroe ISDs have said that they will offer limited virtual learning options.

SEE ALSO: Houston-area school districts offer limited virtual learning option for some students

That's not the case at Xavier Academy, which its district invested in new technology such as cameras, and tablets that move with the teacher.

"It would follow the teacher around the room. By pairing that with a large screen monitor on the wall, the kids in the classroom and the kids and the teacher can see a large picture of the kid on the monitor," Garner explained.

DISTRICTS STILL WORKING ON FINAL COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

There are still several districts working on their final COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming school year. Houston ISD is one of them.

The district recently released some of the plans, which include keeping plexiglass dividers, cleaning buildings nightly, and limiting visitation. HISD is not alone.

Pasadena, Montgomery, and La Porte ISDs are all working on final plans as well.

Katy ISD has said that due to updated guidance released Aug. 5 from the Texas Education Agency, it will post updates to its Safe Return to School Plan on Aug. 9.

Meanwhile, citing recent developments and new information, Cy-Fair ISD will also release an updated safety plan by close of business Aug. 9.



WHAT IS MY CHILD'S SCHOOL DOING?

If you're wondering what your child's protocols will be, keep checking the district's website. Many have placed their plans right on the home page.

You might also want to check your email. District officials said they've been in touch with parents, and those that are finalizing protocols plan to be in touch soon.

For more on what your child's school district is doing to keep them safe from COVID-19, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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