BISD Superintendent Rene Gutierrez and other superintendents in the Region One Educational Service Center have sent a letter to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath urging him to extend distance learning for an additional four-week waiver period when classes resume for the second semester of school on Jan. 4.

The letter, dated Dec. 14, calls on Morath to implement a COVID-19 emergency on-campus attendance plan as a minimum framework at campuses where the infection rate rises above 15%. The framework would allow schools to continue 100% distance learning for the first four weeks of the spring semester. At the same time, districts would continue to make rapid COVID-19 testing available to students, faculty and staff who participate in face-to-face instruction at the campuses. The letter asks that funding continue regardless of the instructional delivery method.

The Brownsville Independent School District has operated mostly under a distance learning-only instructional delivery model since school began on Aug. 25, receiving periodic four-week waivers from providing in-person instruction between Aug. 25 and Nov. 30, when voluntary in-person instruction resumed across the district.

The Region One ESC stretches from Laredo to Brownsville and is headquartered in Edinburg. The Rio Grande Valley has experienced a COVID-19 infection rate consistently above 15% since last summer.