Arlington schools’ policies will continue to excuse students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and offer testing, and require isolation of confirmed COVID cases.
The school district will still not require masks or conduct contact tracing and health screenings, all of which the board discontinued in late May following Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting public institutions’ abilities to enact social distancing policies. The district will also discontinue use of physical barriers.
Arlington schools will require isolation for people who test positive for coronavirus to isolate for 10 days. Students who have to isolate will be excused and have access to make-up work and homebound services, and can return after their symptoms dissipate.
The district recommends students and staff get tested three to five days after their last contact with someone who tests positive, even if they are fully vaccinated, and stay home if they are symptomatic. The district is also asking parents to monitor their children for symptoms and will offer testing.
Board members also extended a policy allowing 10 days of paid leave for teachers who test positive through the upcoming school year after a federal Labor Department act offering the same leave policy expired in December.
Board members heard from three people during public comment, two of whom cast doubt on guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, as well as vaccinations and mask-wearing. A handful of audience members sported shirts that said “stop the vaxx genocide” and signs in opposition of vaccinations. Several of the spectators left the meeting following the vote.
“The CDC has been wishy-washy at best,” said Kim Worley. She added that her child’s anxiety during the previous school year reached an “all-time high.”
Worley and another speaker noted news of breakthrough cases — instances where people who have been vaccinated test positive for COVID — as proof available vaccines do not stave off the virus.
A small amount of those vaccinated in the U.S. have tested positive, according to the CDC, and evidence suggests that those who are vaccinated suffer from fewer severe symptoms.
Kim Martinez, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Webb Elementary School, thanked the board for canceling in-person convocation for teachers, while requesting that meetings and training remain virtual.
The procedures the board unanimously passed Thursday evening stated that limited in-person meetings will resume normal operation, as well as limits on volunteers and required appointments for visitors.
Board members raised questions about make-up policies and other accommodations for students whose parents kept them home after being exposed, or for people who falsely claim they were exposed. Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos said the district will approach cases individually and “with positive intent.”
“If we find out differently then obviously that changes if the reasons are not valid,” Cavazos said. “But in essence, we are going to help mitigate the spread by individual action.”