Sulphur Springs ISD administrators provided updates Monday evening on COVID-19 cases and enrollment in Virtual Academy and face-to-face learning.
Assistant Superintendent Josh Williams reported the district has had a total of 78 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, 46 students and 32 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 since school started on Sept. 1.
He acknowledged that there were some cases before school started, but they are not included in these numbers. The district began having to report COVID-19 case information to Texas Education Agency, Texas Department of State Health Services and the Local Health Authority about the time school began, so Sept. 1 is the date used for the district reports.
Student cases span 5 different campuses: 1 case each at Douglas Early Childhood Learning Center and Travis Primary, 2 at Bowie Primary, 6 at Sulphur Springs Middle School and 36 at Sulphur Springs High School.
Staff cases have been reported on 6 different campuses: 3 each at at Douglass, Sulphur Springs Elementary and another district facility; 7 at middle school; and 8 each at Bush Primary and high school.
As of Monday, SSISD reported 3 district students have are home with positive COVID-19 cases, one at middle school and 2 at high school. The district also on Oct. 19 had 10 active staff cases: 1 at Douglass ECLC, 4 at Barbara Bush Primary (3 reported on Monday), 2 each at middle school and high school and one at another district facility.
“These are folks who have not cleared the protocol yet and are in quarantine and are home from school,” Williams said.
The active case count would have been higher if the census were for last Wednesday and Thursday. However, several followed protocol over the weekend and were able to return to school Monday.
The report shows the highest positivity rate on Monday was 1.07 percent at Bush Primary. Douglass’ positivity rate was 0.38 percent, middle school 0.27 percent and high school 0.28 percent. The positivity rate is derived by taking the total number of active positive cases (student and staff) and diving it by the sum of the number of students and staff enrolled at or working on that campus, Williams explained.
“The bottom line is our highest percentage is 1.07 percent. I think the highest percentage we have seen has been 1.4 percent at high school,” Williams said of the campus positivity rates. “That translates to an awful lot of kids who are going to school either on buildings or the remote learning academy.”
The district also has 206 students and 16 staff members who have not tested positive but were in quarantine on Oct. 19 due to a high-risk exposure to or have been sent home with symptoms of COVID-19. A high risk exposure is being within 6 feet, while unprotected, to a person who has COVID-19 for a period of 15 minutes or more.
SSHS has 70 students in quarantine, many of whom are varsity football players who had a high risk exposure and are expected to be back on campus on Friday. High school also had 3 staff members in non-positive quarantine on Monday.
Barbara Bush Primary, however, has had the most recent activity; 60 students were in quarantine on Monday, most had to go home due to high risk exposure from a teacher who has tested positive for COVID-19. On Oct. 19, Bush Primary had 5 staff members in non-positive quarantine as well.
A couple of weeks ago, middle school would have had the highest number when the 8th grade football players were in quarantine. The campus as of Monday had 20 students and 4 staff members in quarantine.
Also in quarantine were 8 students and 2 staff from Bowie Primary, 9 students from Lamar Primary, 1 student from Travis Primary, 18 students and 2 staff members at Sulphur Springs Elementary.
Austin Academic Center is the only SSISD campus that has had neither active cases nor any students or staff in quarantine.
“It’s constantly changing, literally from hour to hour,” Williams said. “I can’t say enough about our nurses and what a great job they are doing. They are working their tails off to keep this straight and put up with me, to get through it and all the different pieces that we have. They are really doing a really great job.”
Superintendent Michael Lamb Monday night reported there are 3,501 students attending face-to-face classes on SSISD campuses and another 826 students are enrolled in Virtual Academy. That’s a change of 20-30 students since his last report to the board, but still about 100 less students in 2020-21 than during the 2019-20 school year.
“That’s not bad compared to where we thought we would be. We feel good about our enrollment. It is increasing,” Lamb said.
The biggest decreases in enrollment from last year are in Douglass and kindergarten classes, SSISD Board of Trustees President Robert Cody noted.
“Yes, as we’ve seen all over the place, a lot of parents kept their kindergarteners and pre-kers home this year, all over the nation, and are going to wait a year before they enroll,” Lamb said.
Overall, 279 students are enrolled in kindergarten as of Oct. 19, 2020, two more than during the second week of school.
The superintendent pointed out that the total number of SSISD students enrolled in Virtual Academy has been reduced from 20 to 19 percent.
“Some are coming back, slowly but surely,” Lamb said.
The number fluctuate by campus, as does overall enrollment.
At Douglas ECLC, enrollment has increased from 198 to 207 students, with 4 fewer students attending VA and 13 additional students attending classes on campus. This campus previously had 224 students last year.
Three fewer students were enrolled at Bowie Primary on Oct. 19 than the 312 reported the second week of school. Overall, 258 students attend classes on campus, two more than in September, while 51 students attend VA, which is 5 fewer students overall. That decreases the VA population at Bowie from 18 to 17 percent.
Barbara Bush Primary has an overall enrollment of 328, which is 8 fewer students attending than in September. Seven fewer students were enrolled in VA and 5 more were enrolled in face-to-face classes. That decreased the VA percent from 18 to 14 at Bush Primary.
Lamar Primary had 293 students, 59 less enrolled overall on Oct. 19 than in September. Overall, 264 students were enrolled in face-to-face classes, 21 more students than in September. VA enrollment declined 21 percent to 10 percent. Only 29 Lamar students enrolled in virtual classes on Oct. 19 compared to 109 taking VA classes the second week of school.
Travis Primary had 1 less student in October than the enrollment of 290 reported in September. VA enrollment dropped from 61 to 58 in October, while enrollment in face-to-face classes grew from 229 students in September to 233 in Otober, a 1 percent decrease to 20 percent overall.
Enrollment in VA increased 1 percent at middle school, where the overall enrollment was 1,013 on Oct. 19, an increase of 4 students. Only 809 students were enrolled face-to-face classes, down from 816 the second week of school. The district had 204 VA students on Oct. 19, up from 193 in September.
At high school, 3 percent more students are attending VA in October. Enrollment on that campus as a whole decreased from 1,271 to 1,259 on Oct. 19. Enrollment went from 1,011 on-campus and 260 VA students the second week of school to 956 on-campus and 294 VA students Oct. 19.
SSES’ student population increased by 15 students to 627. A dozen more students were attending face-to-face classes in October than the 505 reported in September, while 110 students were enrolled in VA, 3 more than in September. That increased the VA population by 1 percent to 18 percent.