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Three-pronged approach to safety and budget priorities - March 4, 2021
Dear SAISD Staff:

We are committed to providing safe and healthy environments for our staff and students. Rest assured, we have a solid approach to safety during this pandemic anchored to three key strategies – strong protocols, weekly COVID testing, and proactive vaccinations.

We recognize that many of you and our parents expressed concern when Gov. Gregg Abbott announced his decision to rescind the statewide mask mandate effective March 10. We want you to know that we will continue to require face coverings for everyone in our buildings as outlined in our safety protocols published earlier this school year. We have found this requirement to be effective in reducing the transmission of illness, especially COVID-19.

We also continue to be encouraged with the results of our weekly testing and vaccination initiatives. To date, more than 90,000 COVID-19 tests have been recorded with less than a 1% positivity rate. This means that once our in-person staff and students receive their negative test results, they can be confident they are coming to work and school with their health and the safety of others in mind. 

Additionally, almost 1,500 employees already have received at least the first dose of a COVID vaccine through our partnerships with health care providers, and the majority have been teachers and other campus-based staff. We will continue to prioritize vaccinations for all of our staff, and by the end of the week, we believe every high-risk employee will have started their vaccine shots. 

A decision announced by the state will help make this process more expedient. As of yesterday, educators became eligible and prioritized for vaccinations at any distribution location in Texas. We wholeheartedly support this decision.

Fortunately, Bexar County’s positivity rate in the community is declining, much like ours. We see both the SAISD and the San Antonio communities becoming safer each day, and we will remain vigilant so that our health metrics continue to decline to even safer levels.

I will discuss our three-pronged safety approach in more detail during a staff town hall on Monday, March 15, at 4:45 p.m. 

Also during the town hall, I will speak to our budget priorities. The first round of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding remained at the state level, and we are actively advocating for much of the second round and all of the third round of education-specific funds to be funneled directly to Texas school districts. Allowing access to these funds would allow districts like SAISD to address learning loss that students have experienced since the COVID crisis began, provide more resources toward the mental health and social-emotional well-being of our students as a result of the ongoing pandemic, and allow for staff compensation.

I hope you will be able to join me for the town hall for these discussions.

Until then, I want to recognize March as School Social Work Month, and next week as School Social Work Week. I especially want to note that we are being acknowledged at the national level for the work that our campus and District social workers do to support our families. Please join me in congratulating Estella Garza, director of Family and Student Support Services, who has been honored with a prestigious national lifetime achievement award for her work in the District. 

She and all of our social workers are to be commended for their commitment, effort, and service for our students and families. These positive and compassionate professionals promote personal success and enhance academic performance. We are grateful for all you do! 

Please enjoy your spring break. I look forward to working with you to finish this school year SAISD Strong.


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