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COVID-19 cases at school = what is the plan?

Navigating back to school during this time is not easy for parents or educators. Parents, you may be worried about your child getting exposed to COVID in the classroom. We wanted to show you what school district leaders are doing to keep kids safe when they do return to in-person learning.

Spotlight on what Alvin ISD is doing to prepare

It’s been a busy summer for Alvin ISD school nurse Brandi Goldston.

“We have been looking at this ever since march when everything was shut down initially,” said Brandi Goldston, School Nurse Alvin ISD.

From social distancing to mask-wearing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Education Agency have spelled out dozens of COVID guidelines for schools. The CDC requests that each school develop a proactive plan for when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

“We ordered a lot of PPE for nurses for staff members,” said Goldston. “We are encouraging parents to have students wear either a face mask or face shield.”

Sick student protocols

At Alvin ISD a sick student must immediately be separated from others. The teacher will call down to the nurse and the nurse will come to the classroom to check out the student. This is so the student is not walking the hallways potentially exposing other people.

“If we access and determine that person is exhibiting two or more symptoms consistent with COVID 19 they would be put in an isolation room,” Goldston explains.

In the isolation room, everyone will be in full PPE, students will be monitored and parents or guardians called.

“The parent will be contacted within an hour the student will hopefully be picked up by a parent. Then the room will be cleaned by our custodial staff and they’ve been trained in that as well,” said Goldston.

HISD has similar protocols in place with isolation rooms at each school that is supervised at all times and thoroughly cleaned each day. (You can read more about the HISD plan here.)

Fort Bend ISD is hiring wellness monitors who will assist in daily screenings and will also be a part of the response team if a positive COVID case is reported. (You can read more about the Ft. Bend ISD plan here.)

Cy-Fair ISD is adding air purification systems in their isolation areas. (You can read more about the Cy-Fair ISD plan here.)

For all school districts, impacted staff, students, and parents will be notified of any potential COVID exposure. Some districts have even given timelines for notifications, for example, by 5:00 pm the day they find out.

What qualifies as COVID exposure?

Since exposure to COVID is a big part of quarantine, we wanted to know what qualifies as “exposure” to COVID?

“It’s being in an enclosed space for a significant amount of time - say 10, 15, 20 minutes with someone who turns out to the positive,” explains Dr. Linda Yancey, Memorial Hermann Hospital Katy. “The good news is, with masking those exposures hopeful are not going to turn out to additional infections.”

Dr. Linda Yancey, Memorial Hermann Hospital Katy says parents should take action too - especially if you have kids in different schools.

“If one of the children has an exposure, it’s super important for the family to communicate with the other child’s school to let them know that child has had exposure as well,” said Dr. Yancey.

Dr. Yancey also talked with us about how schools are planning to have kids practice social distancing.

Guidelines for returning to school

Area schools we checked with are also using the CDC guidelines for when a student or staff member can return to class after a positive COVID diagnosis.

Guidelines

-At least 24 hours have passed with no fever, without medication.

-At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

-The person is not showing any symptoms.

All schools are adding extra sanitization measures.

“We’ve got hand sanitizer stations all over campus and there will be designated time for handwashing and hand sanitizing for both staff members and students,” said Goldston. “We feel very confident that we are able to bring the students into a safer environment and allow them to have that in-person instruction that is so needed.”

Other school changes include having staggered drop off and pick up times, one-way traffic hallways, and keeping the students together all day. For example, having specials teachers like art and music coming to them rather than having the kids moving around the school interacting with more people.

Curious about the guidelines for your school? We have detailed information pages for each school district on our website. You can search for your district here in our back to school section.