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'There's deep concern' | New pressure to keep schools closed as districts move forward with in-person plans

Texas' largest teacher's union and a prominent infectious disease expert shared insight during a webinar.

HOUSTON — Katy ISD’s return to campuses next month will include lots of cleaning.

"Students are asked to clean their hands with the liquid sanitizer and to take a sanitizing wipe to disinfect their workspace or desk,” said the narrator in a new video produced by the district.

A number of videos show COVID-19 protocols from classrooms to cafeterias and onboard school buses.

"No more than two students are assigned per seat,” said the narrator in another video.

But some continue to insist now is not the time for in-person instruction in Katy or any other Houston-area district.

“I don’t see how you can open up school safely,” said Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine.

Hotez was part of a Thursday afternoon webinar discussing schools along with Houston Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo, who also leads more than 65,000 educators statewide as president of the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.

"We have enough trouble with adults complying or working with medically-based practices with the level of fidelity that we need," Capo said. "It’s going to be even more difficult with younger kids that really do want that social interaction.”

Harris County health officials recommended this week schools remain closed until the current COVID-19 threat level subsides. It's guidance we're told a number of area superintendents are evaluating.

Hotez also believes community spread remains too rampant at the present time and the virus cannot be stopped at school building doors.

"The level of community transmission is so high, even if it’s not going up, it’s plateauing at that thousand mile an hour level,” Hotez said.

Capo commended districts for comprehensive back-to-school plans amid the pandemic.

But he can’t help but fear schools may be forced to close again if reopened.

"There’s deep concern that the individual few that choose not to follow guidelines are really going to put at risk everyone else,” Capo said.

Watch more of Katy ISD's safety protocol videos here.

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