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School districts prepare for students to return amid surge

Despite the ongoing pandemic and the newest threat, the Omicron variant, school districts believe their current COVID-19 protocols will work.

TEMPLE, Texas — Some school systems around the country are extending their holiday breaks, requiring masks and switching to virtual learning because of the rise in COVID-19 cases, but not much is changing here -- in Central Texas schools.

There's a common message from the Central Texas school districts and that is we've been here before, what we've done works and we know how to handle it. Those are a few of the reasons why there isn't much of a change for when kids return to the classroom after winter break.

"It's really just a new version of what we've been dealing with the last few years," Salado Independent School District Superintendent Michael Novotny said.

Despite the ongoing pandemic and the newest threat, the Omicron variant, Novotny believes the Salado Eagles will be safe.

"We'll be able to continue to do that these next few months and get through Omicron and whatever else versions come after that," he added.

Salado ISD plans to continue recommending masks and social distancing when possible and of course keeping the kiddos and staff home when necessary.

Temple Independent School District is in the same boat.

The district released a letter to parents saying they are following the CDC's most recent guidance related to cutting down the minimum required quarantine from 10 days to 5 days if asymptomatic or if symptom-free for 24 hours.

However, Temple ISD Superintendent Bobby Ott says the full 10-day quarantine will be allowed.

"Some people even though they're asymptomatic, they want to stay in quarantine for 10 days and so we have told our staff and our students that it's a personal decision and we will support you," Ott told 6 News.

Both school districts are aware of the unknowns and that there might have to be adjustments once school starts.

"I think we have proven that we're adaptable," Ott added. "We look after the safety of our students and staff; that's job one for us."

Waco Independent School District has kids returning to campus Tuesday to basically how they left it.

Waco ISD, like other districts, are relying heavily on their current COVID-19 protocols to fight the omicron variant but district spokeswoman Alice Jauregui says there is a heightened concern.

The current protocol includes the district-wide mask mandate that's been in place since August.

"We do anticipate having some students out possibly due to COVID-19 which is why we are offering the testing ahead of time to allow the students to find out if they are positive and allow them to quarantine but at this time, we are not looking at any other course of action," Jauregui said.

Belton Independent School District is also updating its plan. 

The district is moving to Scenario 3 of the COVID-19 Response Plan which includes, limiting school visitors, social distancing, and increased cleaning.

Every school district will have different COVID-19 guidelines and protocols so make sure you check in before sending your student to class.

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