Officials submit letter requesting school reopening authority

Local officials and school superintendents on Thursday submitted a letter to state officials requesting the state give them permission to decide when to reopen the schools in the 2020-2021 school year without being penalized.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr., Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo and superintendents in the county say they would like to decide when it is safe to reopen the schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter is addressed to Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath, and Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Cameron County leaders are “requesting authorization to be allowed to exercise their decision-making authority to reopen the 2020/2021 school year without penalization and commence in-person instruction until the rate of positive COVID-19 cases has reduced to an acceptable level as determined by Dr. James W. Castillo, with consultation from Dr. Hellerstedt, MD.”

School districts in Cameron County have developed strategic contingency plans to include full-time remote/online instruction, hybrid instruction, and in-person instruction with prioritized safeguards for the protection of life.

Parents, teachers and staff from the various school districts have voiced their concerns regarding returning to the classroom while the virus continues to spread around the county.

“We are respectfully submitting this letter requesting local authority to be exercised in Cameron County for the protection, of all students, educators and staff this upcoming scholastic year. We are united in effort and submitted this letter to protect us all, especially our most valued treasure, our children,”Trevino stated.

lmartinez@brownsvilleherald.com