The Bell County Public Health District issued a countywide order Thursday restricting public and non-religious private schools from conducting in-class lessons until after Labor Day.

In the order, Local Health Authority Janice K. Smith, MD, MPH cited recent increases in cases of COVID-19 transmission through community spread, particularly among younger people and children, as the reason for the order.

The following restrictions go into effect at 12:01 AM Friday, July 24:

School systems shall not re-open schools for on-campus, face-to-face instruction until after September 7th, 2020.

Virtual instruction shall be permitted as per a school system's own plan.

Extracurricular sports and activities shall not take place until school systems reopen for on-campus instruction, with the following exceptions:

1A, 2A, 3A and 4A high schools may conduct extracurricular activities, including band practices and volleyball, football, and cross country practices, scrimmages, games, and meets according to the latest UIL guidelines and restrictions regarding gatherings mandated by Governor Abbott.

Students already participating in UIL strength conditioning programs can continue to participate as long as the schools follow UIL guidelines.

Under Governor Greg Abbott's current orders, religious schools are exempt from the order. However, Dr. Smith wrote in the order, "[T]they are strongly urged to comply with these restrictions to assist with decreasing the spread of Covid-19 in our communities."

The order allows for the following exceptions as well:

Teachers and other staff may work on campus as long as social distancing and face covering guidelines are strictly adhered to.

Schools are allowed to provide childcare for the children of school district employees as long as they are strictly following guidelines for childcare centers.

Students who need evaluations or support for special education, bilingual, dyslexia, or other special programs may be scheduled to come to campus for this activity as long as social distancing and face-covering guidelines are followed.

Students and/or parents are allowed to pick up pre-prepared meals, technology, and /or school supplies as they have been doing during this time, but must wear face coverings and follow social distancing guidelines.

You can read and download a PDF copy of the order here.

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