Mary E. Nava
Chief Government Affairs Officer
210-382-6137 cell July 22, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BCMS COVID-19 Task Force
Position Statement Regarding Face-to-Face Reopening of Schools
Since its founding, the mission of the Bexar County Medical Society has been to provide quality health care for our patients and the public. We represent over 5,000 physicians and medical students who strive to make Bexar County a healthier community.
Over the past six weeks, the San Antonio community has experienced a dramatic rise in the COVID-19 testing positivity rate (growing from 4% to 22%) and community/close contact transmission of the virus (now at 90%). This recent and dramatic increase in cases now strains area hospitals and healthcare delivery.
This situation will require time for public health mitigation strategies to take hold so that the number of new cases is reduced to a manageable level. Until COVID-19 infections are under control, public health officials have banned (to the extent permitted by law) large indoor group settings and interactions. Yet, at the same time, Texas public schools are being told to open for in-person classroom instructions within the next few weeks.
Schools at every grade level are currently faced with a near impossible challenge to implement in-person learning while simultaneously responding to legitimate health and safety concerns of the teachers, administrators, students, and their families. As physicians, we are well-aware of the transmission of disease that occurs throughout the year in academic settings.
Therefore, following extensive professional review, the Bexar County Medical Society COVID-19 Task Force recommends that all schools delay face-to-face/in-person instruction until such time that the COVID-19 testing positivity rate for Bexar County drops below five percent (5.0%) for at least 14 consecutive days, and there is a decline in new COVID-19 cases for 14 consecutive days in the county, as measured by a 7-day rolling average. At such time, the prevalence of the virus will have been reduced to a level that will allow other mitigation techniques in schools to be more effective.
As physicians, we understand the importance of a safe, structured learning environment for children. In fact, as parents, we personally understand the challenges that distance learning presents for everyone involved. We are similarly aware of the need and importance of nutritional support received by many children at schools in this community. However, until safer conditions are achieved, it will be critical for the health of the entire community that schools continue on-line/distance instruction.