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Education

Decision To Bring Students Back To Campus Is About Mental Health, San Marcos CISD Superintendent Says

The San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District headquarters.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

Lee esta historia en español.

San Marcos CISD's decision to have all students return to in-person learning later this month was largely about mental health, Superintendent Michael Cardona said Monday.

In the past 10 months, he said, at least four high school students learning from home have died.

"And that's the ones that we know about," he said at a specially called school board meeting. "The trauma from this pandemic is real, but I think we have some good systems in place."

The district would not go into detail about the students' deaths.

Last week, the district said having students back on campus would make it easier to check on their mental health and see how they're doing academically. New coronavirus cases in the county have decreased as more and more people get vaccinated. And according to the district, more than 800 staff members are expected to be vaccinated this week.

All students are expected to return to campus April 12 unless they have a medical exemption.

Some parents called the decision unwarranted and anxiety inducing, especially with just a few months left in the school year. Others said their students are doing better remotely.

"I get the anxiety. I have children who have anxiety. I have anxiety. ... And so I understand that there are legitimate concerns with that," Cardona said. "We ask you just to work with your principals and counselors. They know you better than I do. They will work a plan that meets your children's needs that I think will be beneficial."

Ultimately, Cardona said, students returning is inevitable, whether it's now or next year.

"We will be very flexible," he said. Exemptions will be made for students living with high-risk family members, for example.

Some parents and board members said that message of flexibility wasn't made clear until now. Cardona said families can expect more communication from the district this week.

The next scheduled school board meeting is in two weeks.

If you or someone you know is contemplating self harm, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Got a tip? Email Riane Roldan at rroldan@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @RianeRoldan.

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