By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – It was bound to happen. No one, however, expected it to be quite so soon. Two of the four school districts in Houston County which have already started the 2020-2021 school year reported a student had been confirmed to have COVID-19.
Latexo ISD opened its doors for students on Aug. 10 while Grapeland ISD cranked up on Aug. 19. On Thursday, Aug. 20, unfortunately, both school districts reported lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 were present on each district’s elementary campus.
Upon learning of the presence of the virus on the Grapeland ISD campus, Superintendent Don Jackson said, “We knew we would get a case at some point. We have protocols in place that we believe will effectively mitigate the spread. We will continue to safely serve our staff, students and community.”
Latexo ISD Superintendent Michael Woodard commented, “This has been and continues to be a challenging time for all of us. Over the last months, we have worked diligently to study the guidelines from national, state and local officials as well as seeking input from parents and stakeholders. This is a complicated issue, but we have done our best to use a common sense approach. Keeping our students and staff as safe as possible is, and always will be our top priority.”
An official statement was released by both districts late Thursday afternoon.
The GISD statement read: “In keeping with Grapeland ISD’s practices to respond to COVID-19, we are notifying all student families that a student who was lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 was present on the campus of Grapeland Elementary School on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Due to privacy requirements, we will not be releasing the name of the individual or details that may identify him or her.”
The LISD statement read: “In keeping with Latexo ISD’s practices to respond to COVID-19, we are notifying all student families that a student who was lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 was present on the campus of Latexo Elementary for several hours on (Monday) Aug. 10. Due to privacy requirements, we will not be releasing the name of the individual or details that may identify him or her.”
Both statements added: “We are working closely with the local health department on this matter. After careful review, we have determined that the COVID-positive person did not come into contact with all students, staff, or areas accessed by all students or staff.”
“Operations at Grapeland Elementary School will be modified,” the GISD statement continued. “The local health department has begun a case investigation and we have contacted any individuals determined to be in close contact with the infected individual. All students and staff that came into close contact have been directly notified no later than Aug. 20 at 2 pm. Those that were in close contact will remain off campus for 14 days to ensure they do not have the virus, so that there will not be any further spread. We will keep you apprised of further updates.”
The Latexo ISD statement indicated, “Operations at Latexo ISD will continue as usual and we will keep you apprised of further updates.”
The two announcements further stated, “While we do not have reason to believe that those who were not in close contact with the infected individual have reason to be concerned, we ask that you, as always, to watch for symptoms of COVID-19.”
Any of the following symptoms indicate a possible COVID-19 infection:
- Temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when taken by mouth;
- Sore throat;
- New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (or, for students with a chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline);
- Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain; or
- New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever.
Both districts encouraged any member of the Grapeland or Latexo communities to contact a physician if they should experience any of the symptoms listed above.
Anyone in the Grapeland/Latexo ISD communities who has received a lab-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis should contact GISD at 936-687-2317 or LISD at 936-544-5664.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.