Skip Navigation
Final update before winter break - Dec. 14, 2020

Dear SAISD Staff:

Last week, our local health authorities released modified guidance for schools based on the latest COVID-19 positivity rates and what we have learned about the low levels of school-based spread. Bexar County currently is in the Red Zone, the highest risk level. Since only the state can authorize a transition to virtual learning, we are following Metro Health’s new guidance for the highest risk level, which allows for restricted in-person learning with weekly COVID testing of on-campus staff. 

We also have taken the most measured approach across the city with only 30% of high-priority students in-person Districtwide. And because of our COVID testing program, we know that our current recorded positivity rate in the District is less than 1% – much lower than what the county is experiencing as a whole. Our testing initiative is now available across all of our campuses. 

Our tests from the state will continue throughout the school year, and our tests from Community labs will continue through this week. We are working with our city partners to determine whether we can continue the Community Labs testing in January and whether we can also establish a mobile testing unit at Alamo Stadium. I will bring you an update on our progress during an upcoming town hall. 

We will continue doing everything we can to balance academics and safety through our safety protocols of COVID testing, the wearing of face masks, and social distancing. Additionally, we remain committed to working with parents to honor their wishes for remote or in-person instruction, while remaining within the city’s directive. We know we will get through this.

At the state level, we have received some good news. TEA has acknowledged the disruption schools and districts are experiencing during this pandemic and decided not to not assign letter grades to the STAAR assessments this school year. For this we are grateful. 

STAAR will still be administered, and we agree that student assessments should play a role in our schools. We support progress monitoring and will use this benchmark data to determine the next steps to ensure our students are where they need to be academically. We, like all districts, are here to support our students and ensure their future success.

We are also heartened by the educational priorities of President-elect Joe Biden. He has announced a plan that his new administration will follow to open schools. The plan includes ramping up COVID testing, providing schools more resources for personal protective equipment, and funding broadband to ensure students can access learning online. 

Additionally, any day now we will hear about a nationwide vaccine rollout. Two vaccines may begin distribution as early as this week, with the expectation of reaching 10 million to 20 million people before the end of the year. This is the moment for which we all have been waiting! 

We in the educational community already have been advocating for educators to be among the first to receive a vaccine, and we hope this request for priority is heeded. We know that COVID testing coupled with the vaccine is the right formula for our nation and our schools to move beyond this pandemic. 

As we wrap up our first semester, I am excited to share with you the accomplishments of some of our seniors. Among the 12 QuestBridge finalists I mentioned in a previous letter, six of them – from five of our high schools – have been matched with top-tier universities with full-ride scholarships. This is a record number for our District.

And beginning tomorrow, we are launching our 4th annual Experience SAISD as a weeks-long virtual showcase for all of our schools and offerings. The online platform gives families the opportunity to explore our District in a unique and interactive way, while allowing them to take their time as they delve more deeply into the opportunities that will be the best fit for their children.

I am sure our spring semester will continue to bring us good news. As we return in January after winter break, our teachers will be focused on student academic outcomes. We’ll also be rolling out a new safety matrix taking into account our ongoing COVID testing and the knowledge that a vaccine is on the horizon. We will host town halls during the January intersession to share the new matrix with staff and families. Keep an eye out for Save the Dates.

The year 2020 has been markedly different, but we have much to look forward to in 2021. As we enter our winter break, please remember to be vigilant about following health and safety protocols over the holidays to protect yourself and your family members. We know these are challenging times, but the preventative measures we take now will ensure we have future occasions to celebrate. My New Year’s wish is to see us all return to our second semester healthy and ready to support our students and each other.

Happy holidays,

Copyright © {{YEAR}} San Antonio Independent School District. All rights reserved.

powered by ezTaskTitanium TM