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As more students return to schools, more COVID-19 concerns arise

Posted at 6:53 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 23:38:20-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Monday marked the second opportunity for parents of Corpus Christi Independent School District students to remove their children from online learning at home and return them to in-person instruction in the classroom.

District leaders say that about 46-percent of all the district's students are now back on campus.

“We’ve always held that on-campus, face-to-face instruction is the best type of instruction," CCISD Executive Director for Educational Support and Counseling Services Jennifer Arismendi said. "And many in our scientific and medical communities agree."

The local teacher's union disagrees with returning more students to schools over concerns about COVID-19 transmission in the classroom, lunchroom, and elsewhere.

“We have a lot of employees from across the area, and especially CCISD, who share photographs with us," Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers President Nancy Vera said. "Because they’re very concerned about the safety and health of the children."

Some of the pictures Vera said school district employees shared show classrooms with rows of desks topped with three-panel, clear-plastic shields. She says others show students seated close together at tables in lunchrooms.

Vera doesn't believe desk shields provide enough protection, and she says the lunchroom socializing could be a COVID-19 spreading event.

"We don’t have the precautions necessary," she said. "We don’t have the capacity to be able to keep people safe."

Arismendi acknowledges the rising number of cases of the novel coronavirus, but she believes current safety measures will change that.

“We have seen a slight increase in our number of COVID-19 positive cases among students and staff," Arismendi said. "We continue to use our precautions, and those are the precautions that will help reduce the transmission for students and staff who are on our campuses."

A small sampling of CCISD parents yielded mixed opinions.

“Kids, they usually sometimes keep socially distant," Oralia Ramirez said. "But sometimes I’m scared they’re going to get close to each other."

“(School district personnel are) really good with their procedure with the COVID," Sandra Armadillo said. "So I’m not really worried for my child.”