San Antonio Area School Districts Close Amid COVID-19, Some Will Offer Curbside Lunch | Texas Public Radio

San Antonio Area School Districts Close Amid COVID-19, Some Will Offer Curbside Lunch

Mar 14, 2020

Updated Saturday, March 14. Originally published March 13.

Following the public health declaration by the City of San Antonio, all school districts in Bexar County have announced they will be closed for the week of March 16-20.

Barry Perez is in charge of communications at Northside Independent School District, which serves more than 100,000 students.

“I know that we certainly took some criticism, I think for waiting as long as we did, but at the end of the day, the reality is that many families count on us," Perez said. "They count on the district for providing reliable and safe supervision while they work.”

Vanessa Hurd, San Antonio ISD’s chief external relations officer,  said the city’s prohibition on gatherings with more than 500 people played a key role in the decision.

“While that excludes schools, we want to make sure that we're doing everything we can as a community to slow the advance of this virus,” Hurd said. “It's clear to us – and by us I mean not only SAISD, but all of the schools in Bexar County – that we can best be a part of slowing the advance of this virus, and therefore protecting our communities by temporarily closing schools.”

Area school districts and charter schools that have extended spring break through March 20 include:

KIPP Texas-San Antonio and Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering will be closed for two weeks, reopening on Monday, March 30.

Several private schools, including the schools run by the San Antonio Archdiocese, will also be closed. The Catholic schools run by the archdiocese will be closed through at least April 3.

School Meals

One of the major concerns for area public schools is ensuring that the thousands of children who receive free and reduced-price lunch don’t go hungry while their schools are closed.

“School is really much more than just school. I mean, it really is a place where many social services are also distributed,” Hurd said. “We need to be thinking about not just how do we deliver education with fidelity, but how do we ensure that our students who rely on us for one, two or even three meals a day. How do we make sure that they are adequately served?”

Northside, SAISD, EISD, IDEA and most other area public schools said Friday that they will continue to provide some form of school breakfast and lunch while their campuses are closed.

Perez said Northside will distribute meals curbside at several locations throughout the district.

“Basically they'll drive through and be provided the food,” Perez said. “We've tried to make sure that we have a system in place where contact with other individuals will be minimized.”

Perez and Hurd said their districts' websites will be updated with the times and locations for meal pickups. 

Employee Pay

Perez did not have information about employee pay immediately available, but Hurd said SAISD has already completed payroll for next week, and all employees will receive their paychecks.

“We are working diligently with the Texas Education Agency to ensure that we complete the waivers and the necessary requirements so that all of our staff will not face any disruption in pay based on the state-funding formula,” Hurd said. “We're also going to work with our board to explore some emergency leave provisions so that we can ensure that people who are sick are able to stay home.

“Our commitment is to do everything in our power to ensure that there'll be no disruption in pay.”

Hurd said that commitment include hourly workers, who are often the most vulnerable to losing pay during emergency closures.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter at @cmpcamille.