HOUSTON - As kids return to school this week, health experts are closely monitoring the latest Omicron surge.
In a note to parents and staff members, Houston ISD superintendent Dr. Millard House strongly encouraged everyone, regardless of vaccination status, get a COVID test before returning to campus Monday.
Five HISD campuses provided free, drive-thru PCR testing Sunday.
Some parents like Patrick McAndrew have already checked COVID testing and vaccinations off their back-to-school list.
"I think with all the numbers going back up, it definitely brings some concern into it," said McAndrew. "Our son is in 2nd grade and this will be his first full year in school. He finished kindergarten virtually, and he started his first grade year virtually."
However, come Monday morning, McAndrew feels ready to send his young kids back to the classroom.
"We feel okay about sending them back right now. Of course we’ll mask up and likely even be N95 masks, but we’re happier for them to be in school and have them learning," McAndrew said.
Other parents, like Clayton Ellis agree.
"We’re ready for them to get back to school. We’ve really learned that being in school is the best thing for the kiddos right now. So it’s tough when they were home and we just saw that developmentally, it was definitely best to have them back in class," Ellis said.
"Neither of our children are vaccinated. We’re just not there yet. We don’t feel comfortable with that quite yet and really haven’t felt the need. But we feel totally safe with them going back," Ellis continued.
In an interview with FOX News Sunday, US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the ultimate goal is for kids to remain in school for in-person learning.
"We recognize it there may be some bumps in the road, especially this upcoming week when superintendents, who are working really hard across the country, are getting calls saying that some of their schools may have five to 10 percent of their staff not available, so, any decisions on very short term or emergency closures are most likely based off of staffing issues and ultimately, those are safety issues when you don't have adequate staff. But, the goal is full-time in-person learning for our students. They've suffered enough," Cardona said.
All HISD classes will resume in person starting Monday.