By Will Johnson
EAST TEXAS – The 2019-2020 school year was cut short as districts across the state were forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the 2020-2021 school year opened in late August/early September, the Texas Education Agency had provided school districts with a plan to combat the virus and give campuses the opportunity for in-person learning, to go along with on-line instruction.
Unfortunately, as the Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around the world, several area school districts and individual campuses have been forced to close and go back to on-line instruction only.
On Monday, Nov. 2, Westwood ISD Superintendent Wade Stanford announced Westwood Primary School would be closed for two weeks because of COVID-19.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Westwood Primary School will be closed starting Tuesday, Nov. 3, through Monday, Nov. 16, to support the ongoing goal of containing the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The campus will resume normal operating procedures at 8:00 am, Tuesday, Nov. 17. We do not make this decision lightly and fully recognize it presents significant challenges to families in the district. However, we are hopeful that these measures will better ensure the long-term health and safety of our children, staff and the Westwood community,” Stanford stated in a letter posted on the WISD website.
Last Thursday, Nov. 12, Palestine ISD announced the high school campus would be closed until Nov. 30 and would be conducting classes on-line.
In a letter to Palestine High School parents issued on Friday, Nov. 13, PISD Superintendent Jason Marshall stated, “As you know, the last 7-10 days have been difficult for us to provide a quality classroom experience for our students. The number of persons who are being required to quarantine at the high school has made it impossible to have in person classes on that campus. We also have several staff members out on other campuses.”
This week, two Houston County school districts have announced closures because of COVID-19. On Monday it was announced Kennard ISD would be closed until after Thanksgiving.
“This letter is to inform you that a student has tested positive for COVID-19 as well as many students and several staff members on quarantine. The student was last on campus Monday, Nov. 16. Due to the circumstances, we will shift to remote learning beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 17, until Friday, Nov. 20. All activities are canceled during this time and will resume on Monday, Nov. 30. Students are required to engage with their teachers and are responsible for the completion of assignments to be counted present. During our closure, all buildings and areas will be deeply sanitized. Thank you for your patience as we work through each situation that arises. Our main priority is to keep everyone safe and healthy,” KISD Superintendent Malinda Lindsay stated in a post on the district’s Facebook page.
Also on Monday, Crockett ISD Superintendent John Emerich announced Crockett Elementary would be closed until after the Thanksgiving holidays.
“We have seen a spike in cases. We were getting close to three percent but we were still below it. I felt it was time to act and stop any spread at the elementary school. We are off all next week, so we moved all the elementary kids to on-line learning for the next four days,” the CISD Superintendent said on Monday evening following a CISD School Board meeting.
Given the recent moves to on-line learning in the area, it seems the question of additional school closures due to COVID-19 has become a question of when, not if. If the surge in COVID-19 cases continues, don’t be surprised if the state steps in and mandates further shut downs.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.