FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — Fort Bend ISD will be back in class in just over a week with 100% in-person learning like most other Texas public school districts.
“And, without the mask mandate, I’m really worried about the health of our child,” said FBISD parent Zubin Balsara.
Balsara started a Change.org petition this past weekend asking Fort Bend ISD to offer virtual learning to students who don’t currently qualify for the COVID vaccination.
“Especially considering that, now, we have Delta variant, which is more transmissible,” Zubin said.
At last check, Balsara’s petition had well over 12,000 signatures
He planned to present to Fort Bend ISD’s board of trustees during this week’s meeting.
“I am not out there to advocate for online-only education,” said Balsara. “I’m not out there telling people wear mask, don’t wear mask.”
Meanwhile, another parent is pushing for online options in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. Shabana Ikram has also started an Change.org petition to persuade her district. She is especially concerned for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
"Adults may have learned to master the situation during the course of this pandemic but kids have not," she said in an online post.
Balsara and others told us they’re simply pushing for an option to learn online.
It’s something many districts wanted to offer to eligible students who learned virtually last year.
But, at the end of the regular legislative session, a bill that would have paid for and allowed remote learning died when Democrats broke quorum in the fight over unrelated voting rights legislation.
“After the state legislature did not take action to provide funding for virtual classes for our most medically vulnerable students, the District no longer had the option of offering online learning” said FBISD in a statement.
“We want all our staff and students to feel comfortable in our buildings,” said acting FBISD superintendent Diana Sayavedra in a recent video message.
She spoke about meeting social and emotional needs and the district said it recognizes that resuming in-person instruction is a cause for concern and anxiety for some parents, students and staff.
It’s all the more reason Balsara believes online learning should be reexamined.
“Let’s see what we can do,” said Balsara.
At least two districts did recently decide to offer virtual learning despite a lack of state funding.
Those are Austin and Round Rock ISDs.
FBISD’s full statement:
The District recognizes and understands that resuming in-person instruction is a cause for concern and anxiety for some parents, students and staff. As we move forward with the return to classrooms, Fort Bend ISD is taking prudent, practical steps to protect the health, safety and well-being of our students, staff and families.
After the state legislature did not take action to provide funding for virtual classes for our most medically vulnerable students, the District no longer had the option of offering online learning.
To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools and buildings, the District reminds our students, staff and parents that:
- All who wish to wear masks in our schools and facilities have the option to do so and their choice is to be respected. The District strongly encourages this option for those who are not vaccinated.
- Social distancing of 3 feet is to be practiced when possible and physical contact is discouraged.
- Regular handwashing and hand sanitizing is facilitated and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all buildings continues.
- Students and staff are asked not to report to school or work when they are ill and those who have tested positive or have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 must quarantine at home.
- Students at school who show symptoms of being ill will be evaluated by the nurse who will make a determination - based on symptoms – about whether the child should be sent home.
Please know that Fort Bend ISD has many social and emotional support systems in place for our students and staff members and encourages anyone who needs support to reach out to their teacher, counselor, principal, or visit the staff support sections of the district’s web site.
Fort Bend ISD is committed to its top priority of protecting the health, safety and well-being of our students and staff and will remain vigilant as we continue to take all practical measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and buildings.
Please note: Parents, staff and community members are invited to watch the Back-to-School Health and Wellness Event hosted by FBISD, its School Health Advisory Council and the Fort Bend Community Prevention Coalition on Tuesday, August 3 at 6 p.m. Watch here: www.fortbendisd.com/youtube. Local experts will address parents’ and staff members’ questions and concerns related to returning to campuses this fall.