BISD stands by decision to reopen Nov. 30

Absent a new waiver or extension from the Texas Education Agency, the Brownsville Independent School District will restart in-person instruction to students whose families choose that option beginning Nov. 30.

BISD teachers reported to campuses across the district on Monday to prepare schools for the arrival of students on the first day of school after the Thanksgiving break, the first time the district’s schools have been open since the coronavirus pandemic arrived last March.

In a letter to faculty and staff posted on the BISD website Nov. 13, Superintendent Rene Gutierrez states that the Texas Education Agency is not extending waivers to delay the opening of schools, and therefore BISD’s current waiver expires on Friday. Asked for comment Tuesday, Gutierrez again referenced to the letter.

Meanwhile, District 2 State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez of Brownsville said Tuesday that any school district in Texas can make a request to Education Commissioner Mike Morath and TEA for additional time before restarting in-person instruction.

Cortez is in Austin attending state board meetings. He said he would bring up the matter of waivers and extensions with Morath during a roundtable discussion with the commissioner scheduled this morning. Cortez has also asked Morath to cancel STAAR testing for the year because of the pandemic and said he would bring up both issues during the roundtable.

Cortez said districts throughout Texas ar facing decisions whether to reopen schools in the interest of improving educational outcomes, or keep them closed and continue distance learning in the interest of student and teacher safety.

“At what point do you make a decision in the best interest of everybody,” Cortez asked. “If you ask me, student health has to come first, rather than for us to put them in the path of harm. The health of every student and every employee is paramount.”