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Southeast Texas educators explain COVID-19 protocols for in-person learning as students return to class

Texas reported its fourth day of record-high cases. The numbers have some asking if it's a safe time to return to in-person learning.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas —  

As the holiday break comes to an end Hamshire-Fannett and Port Arthur Independent School District will return to classrooms Wednesday despite the recent omicron surge.

Omicron cases are still on the rise. In fact, Texas reported 44,000 new cases on Tuesday. That's its fourth day of record-record cases.

The numbers have some asking if it's a safe time to return to in-person learning.

"We feel we're ready. We predicted the surge," said Hamshire-Fannett Superintendent Dwaine Augustine.

"We have a lot of COVID protocols in place," said Port Arthur ISD spokesperson Adrienne Lott.

More than 450,000 students in the country right now will move back to online learning. That worries the president of the Texas State Teachers Association, Ovidia Molina.

“It's just incomprehensible. We don't understand why there's a rush to go back,” Molina said.

Parents also took to social media to express their fear of students returning back to the classrooms.

"So it's the state has tied the hands of many school districts where we know that funding is a big fear," said Molina. If they go virtual, are we going to get funding?"

Since virtual learning is not an option for Texas school districts, we asked Lott with Port Arthur ISD what happens if a student tests positive.

“They quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and not experiencing symptoms for five to seven days,” Lott said. “They can return with a negative COVID test within with at the conclusion of the five-to-seven-day period, but if they choose not to retest, then they would have to quarantine for ten days instead of five to seven.

Augustine is taking this opportunity to beef up testing.

“We still have a significant amount of tests that we can still use to get us through this peak period,” Augustine said.

Molina said she understand the goal is to have students in the classroom but not at the risk of their health.

“We just want to return to our classrooms, focus on our students, but we want to do in a safe manner,” Molina said.

Both Hamshire-Fannett and Port Arthur ISD will continue to use the COVID-tracker.

Parents can find this tracker on the districts' website to stay up to date with the latest cases in the district.

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