One change we have seen as the pandemic has spread across our communities, is the increased use of the face mask and other personal protective equipment in public settings, especially after orders were put in place to make it a requirement.
When school reopens, facial coverings such as face masks will be required to enter any HCISD building. In order to assist students and staff with this requirement, the school district will be providing all students and employees with personal protective equipment.
“Absent of the order from the governor that mandates the use of masks, we knew they were going to be a part of our protocols,” Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Alicia Noyola said. “We had already been requiring all staff to wear a facial covering when they returned in May. This included all of our central office and maintenance staff.”
The equipment provided will vary slightly by grade level as younger children might struggle to keep face masks on for an extended period of time in a classroom setting.
“With our little ones, we know it is going to be hard for them to keep the masks on,” Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, Lori Romero said. “We want to make sure that they have some sort of protection, so we are ordering face shields for students in pre-K to second grade.”
Students from third grade to twelfth grade will be receiving two face masks each as their personal protective equipment. The older students should be able to keep the facial coverings on for extended periods.
All employees of HCISD at the campus and district level will be receiving face coverings that include two masks and a face shield. The shields will facilitate teaching for educators, especially at the elementary level.
“We will be providing shields for our teachers because it is very hard to speak with the mask on when you teach,” Romero said. “When you are teaching something like phonics, the students have to see your mouth in order to learn. So, I think providing them with face shields will allow teachers to lower their masks for a moment because they also have the shield on as extra protection.”
The state has sent some personal protective equipment, but the school district is looking at buying additional supplies to ensure that we have enough for all students and staff.
“They have sent cloth masks, disposable masks, and some shields,” Dr. Noyola said. “The only thing that we are holding off on right now is to see what the shields from the state will look like. I want to see the quality of what the state is sending compared to the ones we are going to order from a vendor. We will look at the material and whether we need to purchase a larger quantity than originally planned from our local vendor.”
The school district is currently finalizing plans for distributing personal protective equipment pending final student counts from a recent survey that allowed parents to choose their child’s learning pathway for the next school year.
“We are making sure we put protocols in place and do not leave it to chance,” Romero said. “Providing masks and face shields is going to help us a lot in keeping all of our staff members and students safe in the classrooms.”