The apparent success of COVID-19 safety protocols adopted by the Marble Falls Independent School District, including the efficacy of rapid testing, has made the prospect of a full return to campuses possible in the near future, Superintendent Chris Allen said. The goal is to return all remote learners to the classroom, beginning with those who are struggling academically or have not been attending classes regularly. The number of remote learners has dropped to 17 percent of the student body from 30 percent when school started in August 2020.
Although COVID-19 cases have risen in recent weeks in Burnet County and the school district, data show the spread of the virus that causes the disease is not school-based, Allen said. As of Monday, Jan. 25, MFISD knows of 108 positive COVID-19 cases across all campuses and personnel.
“When students are here and they’re wearing their masks and doing the things we’re asking them to do, we’re not seeing school-based spread,” Allen said. “So, for one thing, our track record during the fall gives us a certain amount of confidence in this decision.”
Rapid testing for the coronavirus also allows for faster feedback to families, enabling quicker quarantine decisions. So far, the district has performed over 200 rapid tests.
In bringing remote learners back to campuses, the district will make exceptions for students who are in a special education program, students who are in quarantine, or students who acquire a waiver based on an individual basis.
“We’re reasonable enough to understand there may be a reasonable exception to the general rule,” Allen said. “If we tell you your student is doing poorly, we need you to come back to school, and if a parent were to say, ‘Wait a minute. We have extenuating circumstances,’ there is a process by which you can apply for an opportunity to have their situation looked at individually.”