Second Central Texas county orders delay in return to in-person instruction

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 3:38 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 7:53 PM CDT
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) – The Bell County Public Health District Thursday issued an order delaying a return to campus for in-person instruction and activities.

Schools may not resume face-to-face instruction until after Labor Day, the order says.

The order issued by Bell County Local Health Authority Dr. Janice K Smith applies to private and public K-12 schools.

Religious schools are exempted, but the order strongly encourages them to comply.

The order does not affect virtual instruction and provides exceptions for extracurricular activities at 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A high schools including band practice, volleyball, football and cross country practices, scrimmages, games and meets as allowed by the latest University Interscholastic League guidelines.

Teachers and staff members may work on campus provided they observe social distancing guidelines and face mask requirements.

A rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation in the county with a rapid rate of transmission through community spread, high numbers of new cases, and rising positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths necessitated the action, the order says.

Bell County Thursday reported 59 new cases of the virus for a total count of 2,884 with 18 deaths.

A total of 1.272 patients have recovered.

Classes were to have resumed in the county’s school districts during the third or fourth weeks of August.

The Temple ISD sent a letter to parents shortly after the order was issued Thursday that said the district will delay the start date for classes until Sept. 8 because remote learning “is statistically less optimal than educating children on campus” and because “a majority of our working families are without a caregiver at home during the day.”

“Moving the start date to September 8, will hopefully allow these families an opportunity to participate in on-campus instruction in order to accommodate for our working families,” the district said in the letter.

The Killeen ISD said late Thursday afternoon it “will continue to analyze the capability to begin the school year 100% virtually on August 17.”

“The district has been planning a two-pronged approach, allowing the district the flexibility to transition throughout the school year to our virtual platform.”

The Killeen School Board will discuss the district’s plan when it meets at 6 p.m. next Tuesday.

McLennan County’s medical authority issued a similar order Tuesday.

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