JIM HOGG COUNTY, Texas — With school districts across Texas scrambling to put distance learning and sanitation measures in place in time for classes in August, Jim Hogg County has decided not to return to campus for a while.
Jim Hogg County Judge Juan Carlos Guerra has issued an emergency order saying that face to face instruction for students will not happen until after October 2.
County and district officials cited a provision in the Texas Education Agency's policy that allows for remote learning as long as attendance is accurately posted daily.
Superintendent of Jim Hogg ISD Dr. Susana Garza said the district will start the school year completely online. Dr. Garza is also part of the county's Emergency Management Team. She said that not having large medical facilities in the area was a major consideration
"Our community is a small community," Guerra said. "We are at a disadvantage when it comes to medical professionals and medical facilities. We have one clinic our people have to drive to Laredo, Alice or Corpus Christi for medical attention."
Teachers with the district said while they miss their students, they know this is the best plan for now, and they're confident it will work.
"They're [students] so good at technology, and that's the way a lot of them like to learn," Biology teacher Eric Montalvo said. "I saw so many of these kids blossom when we went online toward the end of the school year. They're just comfortable with that type of learning because that's the type of interaction they are used to."
State Representative Abel Herrero was asked last week by Governor Greg Abbott to reconsider opening schools in August, but agrees that what is happening in Jim Hogg County is a good move.
"I'm glad that the judge in that county took matters into his own hands to assure the safety of his residents," Herreo said. "It was a mistake to open up too soon in our community, to reopen the state of Texas, and I would hate for that to happen in our public schools."
But what about the parents?
Tanya Ramirez, who is a mother of three, said she understands why this decision was made, and she supports it.
"I'd rather have my kids at home where I know they're OK, they're protected, than in the classroom where you don't know where everyone has been at or what they're doing on the weekends," Ramirez said.
Judge Guerra said while his county's positive numbers for the coronavirus is relatively low compared to other counties in Texas, no major medical center in that area prompted him to take action to keep the community safe.
For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.
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