Starr County schools to go with virtual instruction

School districts in Starr County have announced that they will be starting the new school year with virtual instruction.

According to news releases from the Roma and Rio Grande City school districts, both will have virtual instruction to begin in the fall semester.

The news comes after Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas school districts would be allowed to determine how to begin the school year, along with local governments.

Abbott’s response came days after superintendents from school districts throughout the Rio Grande Valley sent a letter to Abbott and the Texas Education Agency requesting more leeway in determining the right time to open schools for in-person instruction.

“In response to this welcome news, Roma ISD Superintendent Carlos Guzman joined with Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, Starr County Health Authority Jose Vasquez and the superintendents from Rio Grande City CISD and San Isidro ISD to develop a coordinated county-wide plan for proceeding with instruction at all districts in Starr County,” read a post on Roma ISD’s Facebook page.

The Rio Grande City school district announced that it will begin the school year on Aug. 17 with virtual instruction. On the district’s Facebook page, the district also announced that it has received 2,000 HP laptops to assist families with the virtual instruction.

The district expects to receive 5,000 more laptops by Monday.

Roma ISD announced that they will begin the school year on Aug. 24 with 100% virtual instruction.

Instruction will continue as such until Sept. 27, at which point the county and school districts will reassess the situation and determine the best option for instruction going forward.

“Basically it just boils down to looking out for the community and to ensure that we’re doing our part to stop the spread of the virus,” Roma ISD PIO Helen Escobar said. “The state provided all school districts with the opportunity to work with our local health authorities and the county to make those decisions.”

Escobar said that if the situation improves by Sept. 27, the school district will seek input from parents to determine how the district will move forward.

“You can’t even tell from day to day what’s going to happen at this point, in terms of the pandemic,” she said.

The Facebook post also advised parents that extracurricular activities such as sports and performing arts will be suspended until the county and school districts jointly deem it safe to resume in-person activities.

“I want to thank everyone who reached out to TEA, their state reps and the Governor,” Guzman said in the Facebook post. “Our prayers for more local control over our school district were heard. We are thankful to the state for giving us this opportunity during this trying time. We also want to extend our gratitude to the leaders of Starr County for working so closely with us to benefit the public safety.”

Updates regarding online registration, student technology support and teacher-student communications will be announced soon.