HISD schools reopen with new protocol for possible COVID-19 closures

Thursday, October 22, 2020
HISD schools reopen with changes for future closures
What's the plan now that HISD is reopening campuses where there were positive or presumed COVID-19 cases? ABC13's Charly Edsitty shows us.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- All Houston Independent School District schools have reopened and resumed face-to-face instruction after campuses were temporarily closed due to positive or presumed positive COVID-19 cases.

Houston ISD reported 90 COVID-19 cases on its online dashboard Wednesday, which included 80 staff cases.

On Tuesday, Houston ISD announced 16 schools were closed due to presumed or positive COVID-19 cases. It's part of the district's procedure to temporarily close the school for deep-cleaning and sanitization measures.

HISD released the following statement regarding the reopening of campuses:

"Now that we have returned to face-to-face instruction, I wanted to provide you with an update about closure and cleaning procedures that are being implemented when we receive a report of a positive or presumptive positive case of COVID-19 on one of our campuses. As we reviewed our processes in real time on Monday and Tuesday, we have made some necessary adjustments that are in alignment with our latest guidance from the Houston Health Department."

One Confirmed Positive COVID-19 Case

  • The campus will remain open and undergo cleaning and disinfection overnight.
  • If notice of the confirmed positive case is received after 5 a.m. when adequate advanced notice cannot be provided to parents, a campus will shelter in place for the day.
  • Learning will continue as normal, with school dismissing and buses running as scheduled. However, students and staff will be required to remain in their assigned classrooms throughout the day and for lunch to limit movement and minimize contacts.
  • Any infected or exposed students or staff must be notified, isolated and, if possible, sent home.
  • At the end of the day, the shelter in place will be lifted and cleaning and disinfection will occur overnight.

Two or More Confirmed Positive Cases

  • If two or more confirmed positive cases are reported on a campus, the campus will close and shift to virtual learning to adequately identify contacts of positive cases.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of the campus will occur within 24-48 hours.
  • All students on the campus will shift to virtual learning until the campus is cleared to reopen.
  • Once the campus is cleared to reopen, principals will notify parents when in-person instruction will resume.

Presumed Positive COVID-19 Cases

  • The campus will remain open but undergo deep cleaning and disinfection overnight as a precautionary measure.

In all three scenarios, you will be notified by your school's principal.

Additionally, HISD's Health and Medical Services will notify any student or staff member who is believed to have been exposed to COVID-19.

For parents who chose in-person learning, their students returned to the classroom on Monday.

Christina Quintero is one of the HISD parents who decided to keep her children learning remotely, despite their ongoing struggles.

Quintero said ultimately she wants her children to learn in-person, but after her daughter contracted COVID-19 before school started, plus the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, she didn't want to take the risk.

"It's not an easy decision. I literally cried for a week," Quintero said. "I didn't sleep because I was like, 'Am I doing the right thing for my kids? Am I doing the right thing for my family?'"

Elementary schools make up roughly 46% of the reported staff cases.

"Parents, I know you're tired. Teachers, I know you're tired. Principals and educators, I know you're tired. I'm with you 100%," Quintero said. "I think we need to work together to find a solution, at least until next semester."

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