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Nederland ISD makes call on masks, virtual instruction, public access to stadium track

NEDERLAND — Nederland Independent School District administrators have announced plans concerning masks and virtual instruction for the 2021-22 academic year.

During Monday evening’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Stuart Kieschnick said declining COVID numbers and the wide availability of vaccinations have made a mask mandate for next year unnecessary.

“We will make masks available for those who want them on a voluntary basis,” Kieschnick said. “They can certainly wear a mask if they choose too, students and teachers.”

Mask requirements remain in place for the rest of the current school year.

There are also no plans to continue offering virtual instruction next school year.

All teaching will be face-to-face.

“We do understand that there could be a situation where there could be some lingering COVID effects and somebody may need to be on a type of homebound program, which could be virtual,” Kieschnick said. “But those situations should be very few and far in between.”

Assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Dr. Steven Beagle said currently 81 percent of students are attending in-person at Nederland High School (district low) and 96 percent of students attend in-person at Helena Park Elementary (district high).

“We’re continuing to see an increase and it’s positive,” Beagle said.

School leaders stress extra sanitation procedures done on school buses, in classrooms, in restrooms and at cafeterias would continue in 2021-22.

“We think that is a good idea and will continue with those extra sanitizing precautions going forward,” Kieschnick said.

A locked gate and sign greets visitors to the west side entrance of Bulldog Stadium in Nederland in April 2020. (Stephen Hemelt/The News)

Track access

On April 3, 2020, the NISD ended public access to Bulldog Stadium or, more specifically, the track surrounding the football field.

The track on the Central Middle School campus had been a popular attraction for community walkers and joggers.

“We’re looking at coming up with some times to have the track open with supervision out there,” Kieschnick said. “What we’re looking at now would be 6 to 8 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. and hiring school personnel to monitor the track and making sure the field doesn’t get vandalized. That’s the best idea that we can come up with now. It looks like it will be open at certain times, just not all day.”

Kishnick said the limited public access is good for everyone and represents a positive give-and-take among stakeholders.

“We really don’t have a timeline for when it will start, but it should be some time before too long,” Kieschnick said.