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United Educators Association blasts decision to open Fort Worth ISD schools

Fort Worth ISD schools will offer in-person learning starting Oct. 5, despite health officials saying numbers aren't where they need to be to open safely.

FORT WORTH, Texas — The United Educators Association criticized Fort Worth ISD’s plan to open schools for in-person learning, a decision made late Tuesday despite warnings from health officials.

“It’s going to cause a lot of health concerns and a lot of heartache and concern among staff and families,” said Steven Poole, UEA executive director.

The school board voted against extending mandatory virtual learning through November at a meeting that started Tuesday evening and ran into the early morning hours Wednesday. 

As a result, the families of more than 84,000 students will have the option to send kids back into the classroom Oct. 5.

Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja told the board the department is seeing an uptick in the coronavirus testing positivity rate, which is higher than the state average.

Taneja says the numbers aren’t where they need to be to reopen Fort Worth ISD schools safely, and he personally would not send his “own” kids into the classroom.

“We are not comfortable sending children to school until there is a COVID vaccine and it's proven to work,” Taneja said during the board meeting.

Despite the warning, the board voted 5-4 against extending mandatory virtual learning.

“When the Tarrant County Health Department is saying it is not safe right now, for the school board to ignore that medical advice is unconscionable,” Poole said.

A Wednesday afternoon press release from Fort Worth ISD says the board and district leaders will continue to monitor the impact of the virus in the coming weeks.