In May 2021, students in the Marble Falls Independent School District were wearing masks and staying physically distant from each other to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. In September 2022, school policies have gone back to normal, treating COVID like the flu. Courtesy photo
Superintendent Dr. Chris Allen spoke to DailyTrib.com about how the revised regulations will help the district regain normalcy as schools across the country emerge from the pandemic.
“I think it was perfectly appropriate for public services like schools to do everything they could to assist at what the time was thought to be a public health crisis,” Allen said. “We’re not at that point anymore. Schools need to do school work and health institutions need to do health work.”
Under pandemic rules, students who came in close contact with a person infected with the virus were required to isolate for 10 days. In an effort to help students excluded from class instruction due to COVID-19, the district revised its grading system. The district will no longer require mandatory isolation for those who come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID.
With no more required isolation periods, how students handle school work also will return to normal.
“Students had a lot more flexibility on how they managed late work (under COVID-19),” Allen said. “We put in a number of safety nets for students who were struggling from the effects of these isolation periods. We wanted to prevent it from having a disproportionate impact on their academic success.”
Along with the end of mandatory isolations, the district will now treat COVID-19 absences similar to other illnesses, such as the flu.
Also, the district will no longer offer COVID-19 testing, encouraging students and staff who feel ill to see their personal health care provider.
Allen cited the decreasing rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations as a driving force behind the district’s decision to reverse its policies.
“We’re not seeing data that suggests the current strand of COVID-19 is nearly as life-threatening or stressful to our medical community,” he said. “COVID-19 is still out there in different forms or strains, but we’re not seeing hospitalization spikes.”
When asked about the return of restrictions as new variants and strains emerge, Allen demurred.
“Trying to anticipate hypotheticals with this virus has been exceptionally challenging,” he said. “We’re in a place where we don’t have to be as reactive as we were before.”