Dear KIPP Texas Families,
I cannot believe we are one week away from welcoming our Little KIPPsters back to school! Thank you for everything you are doing to prepare for the start of the year. Please visit our KIPP Texas Back-to-School and Health & Safety pages on the KIPP Texas website for the latest updates.
Similar to last year, the beginning of this school year is met with an evolving environment. Rising Covid cases and the Delta and Lambda variants are incredibly concerning. Additionally, we are monitoring the risk levels across our regions. Three of our regions—Austin, Dallas, and Houston— are in the “red” zone and San Antonio is in the “critical” zone. In so many ways, we still find ourselves navigating the impact of this pandemic.
We were hoping Governor Abbott and the TEA would modify their previously released mandates regarding face coverings, but as of last week, this does not appear to be on the horizon. Last Thursday, the TEA rolled out updated guidance for schools. The new guidance allows for:
- Students to be absent if they have or are suspected to have Covid.
- Students to stay home if they are identified as a close contact to someone who tests positive.
- Quarantined students to attend a virtual learning option.
While we are glad to see this, these are all policies we were already planning to enforce to keep our KIPPsters safe.
The Health and Safety of our KIPPsters remains of utmost importance. We believe that safe, masked, in-person learning is the best learning environment for most KIPPsters, and we believe that a virtual learning option for our most medically vulnerable KIPPsters is also important. We will continue advocating for a masking policy that allows us to mandate masks for Little and Big KIPPsters and for fully funded virtual learning options for our KIPPsters who need it most.
In the meantime, we trust in our health and safety protocols—frequent cleaning and disinfecting, upgraded air filters, contact tracing protocols—and know that with their consistent practice, we are putting ourselves in the best position to keep the KIPP Texas community safe. We are currently working through and will communicate updated guidance for mask wearing and virtual learning options once they have been finalized. #MaskUpForKIPPsters
KIPP Texas is doing everything possible to provide for an environment where we can require masks and have the state fund some virtual learning options. This week, I asked the Governor directly to restore the ability of local public school leaders to implement mask policies because we know firsthand that widespread use of face coverings is a crucial step in preventing the spread of COVID on our campuses. If you would like to share your input with your elected representatives, you can find contact information for the Governor here and for your state and federal lawmakers here.
Lastly, as we begin the new school year, we continue to lean on medical experts for continued guidance given the limitations in which we are operating. We are excited to share that this Wednesday and Friday, Dr. Carlos Jaén, M.D., Ph. D., F.A.A.F.P, Professor and Chair of Family and Community Medicine in the School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, will be our guest speaker at three KIPP Texas Town Hall and Q&A (see flyer below for details and how to register). He will discuss protections and practices we can use to stay safe while Covid cases are on the rise.
(click this link or on the image to download the flyer)
With all of this, we are working to provide updates to our learning experiences and offerings and safety guidelines as quickly as possible. Please expect additional communication and updates from us leading up to the first day of school.
It will take all of us to keep our KIPPsters safe. Please join me in doing that. Thank you for your dedication to starting the year strong and safe for our KIPPsters, Little and Big.