Sulphur Bluff ISD Superintendent Dustin Carr Thursday afternoon, Aug. 27 in a letter posted on the district website to the “Sulphur Bluff Bear Family,” reported district officials were notified Aug. 26 of additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus, this time for a household. SBISD students in the household were reported to have last been present on our campus Friday, Aug. 21, and Monday morning, Aug. 24.
This follows the announcement on Monday of 1 student who tested positive; that student was last on campus on Aug. 21, according to the Aug. 24 release.
The district at that time contacted parents of any students who might have been considered to have close contact with the student who tested positive for COVID-19. All were asked to self-quarantine at home as a precaution.
Including additional students in the household that tested positive, the district has had three individuals from campus who have tested positive, according to the superintendent.
School officials have contacted any individuals determined to have been in close contact with those who tested positive; they are to remain off campus for up to 14 days to ensure they do not have the virus and reduce the chance of spread.
“We are taking a little bit more precautions to make sure we are covering all our bases. We went ahead and closed both of those classes, two classrooms,” Carr said.
That does not mean school is closing down, however, Carr said. Only the three who have tested positive and those identified as being in close contact, with them will be off campus engaging in asynchronous learning during the required incubation period in an attempt to reduce of COVID-19 the spread on campus, per CDC and TEA guidelines. The district is working in conjunction with the Local Health Authority nurse.
Students who have connectivity will work online on iPads and Chromebooks. The district has ordered some devices to help with that but they are on back order due to the high demand from schools. The district will work to get paperwork to students who are struggling with or have no connectivity and are unable to do the online work. Administrators or teachers will be touching base with those students to check on them and offer educational assistance where possible.
There are a few ways students can be counted as present and participating in class: turning in assignments online or if necessary snapping a photo of their photo and sending it to teachers on their phone or smart device, checking in with teachers, showing “curricular progress” in a learning management system.
“It’s stressful on the teachers, on the administration, for the parents. It’s definitely a new world,” said Carr. “It’s a learning curve for sure. We appreciate everyone being patient with us as we are making sure everyone is on the same page.”
At school, every precaution possible will be taken to help ensure the health safety of students and staff, Carr said, including continuing to use special sprayers, spraying a special disinfectant spray every other day, and staff cleaning multiple times a day. Custodial staff this evening are conducting additional cleaning and sanitizing to ensure all areas of instruction are safe for return of students, according to Carr.
While SBISD officials do not believe those who were not considered in ‘close contact’ with the infected individual have reason to be concerned, all are asked to continue to the safety practice in place this year of monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19, including self-screening each day before returning to school, as a precaution, according to Carr.
Students age 10 and up and adults will continue to wear masks, dividers are in use , social distancing and other guidelines will continue to be observed as school as well. While a few students have required reminders, most students have been very diligent in wearing their masks, particularly at the lower and middle grade levels, according to Carr.
“If kids are wearing masks and a COVID-19 case person wears a mask before diagnosis, it decreases the probability of getting the coronavirus. That wouldn’t necessarily be considered close contact,” Carr said.
School officials encourage anyone who does experience potential COVID-19 symptoms are asked to let school officials know and to contact heir physician.
Otherwise school is continuing as planned with most students enjoying being back at school interacting with friends and staff, participating in cross country, volleyball and junior high baseball while following the necessary precautions and UIL guidelines.
Fans this year will also be required to wear masks and will be required to sit every other row in the bleachers. At this time, game entry will remain the same as the gym typically does not exceed the 50 percent capacity during regular games. Other measures may be enacted during games which typically draw larger crowds, such as homecoming and playoffs, but not at this time, according to Carr.