The first day of school is quickly approaching for students and teachers across North Texas.
Dallas Independent School District said it's preparing for students to return to class in person and offering parents tips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The district said its top priority is the safety of students and staff. It will provide hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment and make vaccines for eligible students and teachers.
"We've also got COVID testing available for both staff and students, our enhanced cleaning efforts in ventilation, with frequent filter changes and air purifiers, and continue promoting good hand hygiene," Dallas ISD Director of Health Services Jennifer Finley said.
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She said the district will continue to implement social distancing and ask students and staff to check their temperatures every day. There will not be on-site temperature checks.
Dallas ISD also reminded parents to keep their kids at home if they feel sick. The same guidance goes for teachers.
In regard to masks, the district cannot require students to wear them due to an order signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, but Dallas ISD said it would encourage everyone in the district, vaccinated or not, to wear them.
"We can try to curb the virus, we can't stop it or eliminate it altogether, so that is one strategy that we can no longer mandate or enforce if you will, but all the other strategies that we have in place will still apply with our distancing measures and cleaning," Finley said.
Parents like Deborah Stewart, whose son Eddie will be a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, said she felt confident sending her child back to school in person.
"Everyone has taken extra precautions in making sure all the kids feel very good in coming back and (Eddie) doesn't have any worries and I don't either because we have been really cautious during COVID and make sure we follow all the guidelines," Stewart said.
While she, her husband and Eddie have been vaccinated, she said her son plans to wear a mask at school. Stewart said she's not bothered that there's not a mask requirement at school because Eddie still has a choice.
"The good thing is that if Eddie feels uncomfortable, he can wear a mask, so I feel comfortable," Stewart said.
She said her son, who is on the varsity swim and track teams and plays in the band, is ready to get back to school for his senior year, especially after 2020.
"He's really excited to go back since he missed his entire junior year," Stewart said.
Dallas ISD has a virtual family forum to help parents navigate all the information from COVID-19 protocols and transportation to enrolling students and other information.
Finely said while there's been a lot of focus on COVID-19, she also wanted to remind parents that students should continue to get general checkups and make sure they have their immunizations before returning to school.