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COVID-19 in Area School Systems

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Recent and Cumulative Data as of Dec. 13

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The number of COVID-19 cases across the nation and across the state of Texas is starting to reach new heights. On Dec. 17, the United States set a new record with 247,403 new, confirmed cases and 3,656 deaths. Texas set a record high with nearly 17,000 cases on Dec. 16. 

To no one’s surprise, these numbers have affected the public school systems across the Lone Star State. Prior to the Thanksgiving holidays, Westwood Primary, Palestine High School, Crockett Elementary and Kennard ISD closed their doors to in-person learning until Dec. 4. Last week, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath indicated the A-F Accountability Rating system used to evaluate schools would be waived for the 2020-2021 school year.

 The 2019-2020 school year ended with elementary, junior high and high school students using some form of remote learning to finish out the last third of the term due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the start of 2020-2021 school year began to draw closer, spread of the Coronavirus appeared to be tapering off. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) came up with a plan for dealing with the highly-contagious infection which included in-person learning, synchronous learning and/or asynchronous learning.

Evidenced by brief closures and several exposures to COVID-19, school districts have developed protocols to help protect their student and faculty populations. For the most part, these precautions have been successful but, unfortunately, this invisible bug has managed to work its way into every school district in both Houston and Anderson Counties.

On Sept. 17, the TEA and Texas Department of Health Services (DSHS) released the following statement:

“In collaboration with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) today posted on the DSHS website the statewide number of cases of COVID-19 reported by Texas public schools. The reported count of on-campus student cases of COVID-19 in the state’s public schools is 2,344 out of an estimated 1.1 million students who have been on campus for instruction or activities since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The total count of on-campus staff cases during the same period is 2,175.” 

The statement added, “TEA previously directed all school districts to submit information about COVID-19 cases going back to the start of the school year. Information is submitted via an online form each Monday by those school systems that were notified in the previous week that a student, teacher, or staff member who participates in any on-campus activity has tested positive for a current COVID-19 infection. Antibody tests, which indicate a previous infection, are not required to be reported.

The agency indicated the collected data would be used to help provide an overview “… of the burden of disease in Texas schools over time and inform public policy decisions about COVID-19. School districts and other local authorities will continue to be the best source of the most current and specific information about cases in their schools.”

According to the TEA website, on Dec. 13, there were 6,716 positive cases of COVID-19 in students reported on school campuses out of an estimated 2,873,692 students. There were also 3,264 faculty and staff members who had tested positive out of an estimated 800,078.

So far this school year, there have been 57,137 cumulative, positive cases of COVID-19 among students and 33,027 positive cases among faculty/staff members.  

What follows is a look at the number of cases currently reported by the TEA in the area districts. As of Dec. 13:

In Houston County:

  • Crockett ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 1,269; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 986; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 46 students; 16 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 24 students; 12 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 24 students; 12 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 4 students, 2 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 24 students; 12 staff members
  • Grapeland ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 605; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 590; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 12 students; 7 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 12 students; 7 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 3 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 9 students; 6 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 1 student, 2 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 6 students; 6 staff members.
  • Kennard ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 223; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 216; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 2 students, 2 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 24 students; 12 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 1 student; 2 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 1 students; 2 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 1 student; 2 staff members.
  • Latexo ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 463; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 395; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 3 students, 2 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 22 students; 13 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 1 staff member; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 19 students; 11 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 0 students, 1 staff member; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 19 students; 10 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 1 student, 4 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 19 students; 9 staff members.
  • Lovelady ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 511; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 471; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 9 students; 3 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 9 students; 3 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 9 students; 3 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 0students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 9 students; 2 staff members.

In Anderson County:

  • Cayuga – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 535; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 489; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 29 students; 18 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 29 students; 18 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 4 students, 7 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 26 students; 17 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 5 students, 3 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 22 students; 10 staff members.
  • Elkhart ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 1,200; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 1,092; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 2 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 15 students; 24 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 4 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 12 students; 22 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 9 students; 16 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 0 students, 1 staff member; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 9 students; 16 staff members.
  • Frankston ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 836; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 768; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 15 students; 13 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 3 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 15 students; 13 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 8 students, 3 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 15 students; 4 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 1 student, 1 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 7 students; 1 staff member.
  • Neches ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 339; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 339; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 1 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 24 students; 6 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 2 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 5 students; 5 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 3 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 5 students; 3 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 2 students; 3 staff members.
  • Palestine ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 3,399; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 2,908; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 3 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 42 students; 34 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 1 staff member; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 40 students; 30 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 9 students, 4 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 40 students; 29 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 8 students, 2 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 31 students; 25 staff members.
  • Slocum ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 364; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 335; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 2 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 13 students; 12 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 1 staff member; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6:  2 students; 9 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 1 student, 1 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 2 students; 1 staff member. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 1 student; 0 staff members.
  • Westwood ISD – Total District enrollment as of Oct. 30: 1,352; Approximate On-Campus enrollment as of Oct. 30: 1,185; Current cases as of Dec. 13: 0 students, 0 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 13: 37 students; 29 staff members. Current cases as of Dec. 6: 0 students, 3 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Dec. 6: 37 students; 29 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 15: 1 students, 3 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 15: 32 students; 24 staff members. Current cases as of Nov. 8: 7 students, 9 staff members; Cumulative cases as of Nov. 8: 31 students; 21 staff members.

The TEA added, “Reporting this information to the state does not replace the legal requirement that schools notify public health officials in their area of all cases. Additionally, as per TEA guidance, schools will still be required to inform all parents, teachers, and campus staff of any positive cases tied to their on-campus instruction or activities.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.

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