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Summer school cause of concern due to virus

The impact of thousands of students returning to San Marcos for the second session of summer school at Texas State University drew concern from members of the Hays County Commissioners Court on Tuesday.

The university says in-person classes will be held during the second summer session July 6-Aug. 6 and that its “Roadmap to Return” includes mandatory face covering and classes held in spaces large enough to allow social distancing.

However, Pct. 4 Commissioner Walt Smith noted that unlike public school students, who are in the care of their parents when not in class, “these are young adults who are going to do whatever they want to do,” including engaging in high-risk behaviors like not wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

His remarks came after the county’s Chief of Staff Alex Villalobos told the court that testing administered by the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) at locations east of Interstate 35 including San Marcos, Kyle and Uhland earlier this month resulted in 2,489 individuals being tested.

As of Monday, 1,132 San Marcos residents had tested positive. After Villalobos told the court the Hays CISD’s Performing Arts Center in Kyle is being eyed for a five-day testing administered by the TDEM, Pct. 3 Commissioner Lon Shell asked why there wasn’t a plan for something similar in San Marcos. “We need to set up something more,” than testing already available, which is primarily limited to health care workers, first responders and people who are already sick.

“The age group, obviously that’s an impact,” Shell said, who will be working and recreating in the community and on the river. “We will maybe see some more dramatic numbers. We’d better be ready to respond to some very high numbers.” He suggested the county try to get something put together within a week.

“Obviously we’re a hot spot,” Smith said, adding that Texas State is the “only Tier 1 institution in the state that’s decided that summer school two is a good idea.” Though he said he “couldn’t throw stones” at the behavior of young people, Smith noted that “when it’s sunny and there’s a chance to have a good time,” the students will do just that. He said the county needs to set up a permanent testing site students can have access to “before 35,000 people from all over the U.S.A. come back here in two months – what impact is that going to have?” He noted the site could be accomplished using CARES act funding the county has already received.

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