Frontline Doctor Expects Schools to Have ‘COVID-19 Clusters When They Reopen'

Travis County's Interim Health Authority, Dr. Mark Escott said COVID-19 clusters will be the reality when schools open in August

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One of the doctors on the front lines of the pandemic in Austin is making a prediction when it comes to COVID-19 and schools: Expect schools to have COVID-19 clusters when they reopen.

Travis County's Interim Health Authority, Dr. Mark Escott, told KXAN-TV that will be the reality when schools open in August.

This week, the Texas Education Agency announced schools must offer in-person learning this fall. That would mean, in many cases, parents will have to choose between 100% virtual learning, or 100% in-person learning for their children.

Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers with the University of Texas helped the city of Austin look at a number of scenarios that could happen when kids return to classrooms across our state. Meyers says the smaller number of students, the better to avoid outbreaks and disruptions.

"Schools might put in place rules where they're going to ask a class to quarantine for a couple weeks, or a grade, or even they may get to the point where they close the entire school for some period of time," Meyers said. "I think we have seen evidence over the last couple of weeks that the changes in policy, that the changes in behavior, that have occurred since mid-June are really slowing the spread of the virus.”

Meyers also says the enforcement of masks will help make a difference. The TEA's guidelines for reopening schools do include safety precautions.

The agency said students, staff and faculty should all go through health screenings. Personal protective equipment will be provided by the state and school districts' COVID-19 related expenses can be reimbursed.

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