How local schools will handle a student or teacher testing positive for COVID-19

Education

CENTRAL TEXAS (KXAN) — It is a new school year and Hays Consolidated Independent School District superintendent Eric Wright says the district is much better prepared for what’s ahead.

“When everything was shut down, our teachers did a great job, but really we were just scrambling and we put together things as we went along,” Wright said.

School administrators have spent most of the summer planning, putting in safety policies and procedures, but what happens if a student or teacher tests positive with COVID-19?

“So if we have an outbreak or hot spot at one particular campus, maybe we shut it down for a few days or maybe we just take actions on that particular environment,” Wright said. “We hope that we are going to be able to manage it as we move forward on a case-by-case basis.”

Here is a look at the guidelines for Hays CISD if someone tests positive for COVID-19 or is feeling ill:

  • When a student displays symptoms of COVID-19, the school nurse will provide a clinical assessment to determine if and when a student needs to be sent home.
  • Students who are ill will be separated from their peers and should be picked up within 30 minutes and no later than an hour from the time the campus contacted the student’s parent/guardian.
  • In the event of a presumptive or positive COVID-19 student/staff on campus, other students will be removed from the classroom and taken to an alternate location on campus (e.g. go on a walk outside, move to a different classroom, etc.) so that the classroom can be disinfected.
  • District communication will be provided to the staff and parents of students who came in contact with a COVID-19 positive student or staff member based on CDC guidance.
  • Staff members displaying COVID-19 symptoms will follow district protocols including isolation from students and other staff members. Note that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides leave support for staff required to quarantine or who test positive for COVID.
  • Students or staff who come into close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and may not return to campus during that time. The CDC defines close contact to include anyone who came within 6 feet of an infected individual for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. Close contact occurs in this situation regardless of whether the individuals wear face coverings.

Pflugerville ISD

Pflugerville ISD will start their school year online, but they also have plans in place if a student tests positive.

“One positive case doesn’t mean that a class is quarantined or a campus is quarantined,” said Tamra Spence, communications officer with Pflugerville ISD. “We are going to be working with health authorities and they will be doing contact tracing and they will contact anyone who is considered a positive COVID contact.”

Pflugerville ISD begins school Thursday. At least the first three weeks will be online with the option to extend the online learning.

Austin ISD

Austin ISD says if they have a positive case the school will close off and disinfect parts of the building where the person was. If it turns out the entire building was exposed then it would shut down for a 5-day deep clean.

Austin ISD says anyone who has direct contact with someone who tests positive will have to quarantine for two weeks.

Lake Travis ISD

Lake Travis ISD says its plan is to provide a notification when a staff member, a teacher or student tests positive in accordance with TEA guidelines. 

KXAN wanted to know what kind of standards the TEA is setting for districts to follow when it comes to reporting positive cases within the district.

“The question on data collection is still under active deliberation by TEA, and we expect to have an update in the coming weeks on what, if any, data will be required and how it will be recorded,” a spokesperson with the Texas Education Agency explained.

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