Are your kids in school?

How a local family with disabilities is coping with COVID-19 and the new school year.

Contributor Andre Greene

Since the start of the pandemic, San Antonio officials have warned that COVID-19 would pose the greatest threat to people with existing medical conditions. Those individuals with disabilities in the San Antonio community understand the COVID-19 precautions that local schools and universities have instituted.

For those with disabilities, having children in school can have its challenges. Marci Steinle, a spinal cord injury survivor has a son in his first year at Southwest University. “He wanted to live on campus and is required to have a roommate, but my son has been very careful and responsible since the very beginning of the pandemic,” Marci said. “If anything happens during this period, my husband will get him to recover back at home and would have to self isolate during his recovery. Because I’m considered to be a risk as a person with disabilities, my husband and I will have to wear a mask,” she added.

According to university policy, students who have been exposed to COVID-19 will be asked to quarantine and students who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be asked to isolate at home or off-campus for a period of at least 10 days and show no fever for 24 hours before returning to school.

Public school students in Bexar County were allowed to return in phases for in-class instruction on Sept. 8, but some have not started to bring students back on campus yet.

According to the San Antonio Independent School District, students will either attend their assigned campus or participate in teacher-led remote learning from home. In either case, each child will receive a high-quality education. Parents can make a change to the model they want at the end of each nine-week grading period.

“Some of the positives are that some students who would skip school or constantly not turn in assignments are now more active because they have opted to stay home where they are more comfortable and complete their assignments on their own time.” said Jennifer Love, a San Antonio High School teacher. The staff at Thomas Jefferson High School has come together to identify “at-risk” students such as students with learning disabilities, or failure to focus, to be a part of the 10% of students allowed back first so that we can tend to their needs, Love added.

Having strategies to ensure your students are healthy and get quality education on all levels is critical for all parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Steinle said she regularly checks the university website for updates and/or changes to any policies. People with COVID-19 who are cared for at home should stay in isolation until they are no longer able to transmit the virus to others. People without symptoms should stay isolated for a minimum of 10 days after testing positive.

According to the World Health Organization’s website, those with symptoms should stay isolated for a minimum of 10 days after the first day they developed symptoms, plus another 3 days after the end of symptoms – when they are without fever and without respiratory symptoms.

Monitor and ensure plans are in place for a continued provision of support and assistance for people with disabilities where caregivers and service providers may not be able to visit their homes due to hospitalization, quarantine, or social distancing practices. Local public health officials will monitor progress and warning indicators to determine whether further delays will be needed to protect the health and safety of students, teachers, and school staff.