Sulphur Springs ISD just before 5 p.m. Thursday announced on the district’s social media pages that school will be closed Friday, Jan. 14-Tuesday, Jan. 18. “Staffing inadequacies caused by COVID-19” were cited for the closure.
According to a news release sent at 5:40 p.m. from the superintendent’s office, “extra-curricular events will continue as scheduled, if feasible.”
School was already slated to be out Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. No SSISD classes are scheduled to be held on Tuesday, either. Classes for Sulphur Springs ISD are scheduled to resume as usual on Wednesday, Jan. 19.
According to SSISD Superintendent Michael Lamb, “extra cleaning/disinfecting measures will be taken” while classes are out.
COVID Campus Counts
On Monday, Jan. 10, only 0.51% of SSISD students and staff was reported to have been identified as actively having COVID-19.
The highest the active case count SSISD has had since COVID began in March 2020 has been 1.5%, and there have been times when the campus active COVID percentage has been 0. That was the case Monday for Bowie Primary, Sulphur Springs Elementary, Austin Academic Center and district staff not permanently assigned to a campus where students attend classes, according to the weekly SSISD COIVD-19 Dashboard report posted Jan. 10, 2022.
SSISD on Monday reported 22 active positive student cases and 36 new student cases from the prior week, and 4 active positive staff cases and 14 new cases from a prior week. Since the first day of the 2021-2022 school year on Aug. 18, 2021, SSISD has had 329 cumulative positive COVID cases and 52 cumulative positive staff cases.
Sulphur Springs High School had 12 student active and 16 new student cases from a prior week, and two active staff cases and two from a prior week – the most cases of any campus on Monday, Jan. 10. That gave SSHS a 0.97% active case percentage.
Travis was the next highest with a 0.95% active case percentage: 2 active student and 1 active staff cases, plus 2 new student and 4 new staff cases for a prior week.
Safe Return to In-Person Instruction Plan
The notice comes just 3 evenings after SSISD administrators presented to the school board the updated Sulphur Springs ISD Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan, which districts are required to approve and make available to students, staff and the general public. (The 5-page plan can be found by clicking the blue and gold COVID-19 Information link on the main page of the district website, then selecting the SSISD Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan.)
The plan, updated on Jan. 10, is based on the latest Centers for Disease Control, Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas Education Agency guidelines and recommendations regarding COVID-19, including the required actions if a student or staff member tests positive for the virus, is exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus, or exhibits COVID-like symptoms.
Williams said the plan shortens the at-home period for individuals who have had close exposure to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. He said as a rule of thumb, follow the pre-COVID plan regarding illness: if you are really sick, stay home. This gives the sick individual’s body and opportunity to rest and heal, while reducing the risk of spreading the sickness to others. Those experiencing potential COVID symptoms should stay home and contact the campus nurse via telephone to begin the process of determining what, if any, additional steps are needed.
While school districts are not required to conduct COVID-19 investigations, SSISD’s plan is to notify students’ parents if the students has been in close contact with someone determined to have the virus. The district will not conduct contact tracing, however. Public health entities have the authority to conduct contact tracing. SSISD had previously worked closely with the Local Health Authority nurse, who had authority to investigate COVID cases. However, the Local Health Authority nurse earlier in the month submitted her resignation to Hopkins County Emergency Management officials.
Parents may choose, but are not required, to keep their students home if the students are determined to have been in close with an individual who has COVID-19. Parents who do choose to send their students to school are encouraged to closely monitor their children for symptoms for 2 weeks following exposure.
Students who were in close contact with someone who had COVID, per CDC guidelines, may return to school on day 10 after close contact exposure if the student has had no symptoms without a COVID test. Students who receive a negative PCR acute infection test result after exposure can return to school.
According to the return to in-person plan, SSISD returned to classes for face-to-face instruction this year and semester, but the district is prepared if it become necessary to return to remote instruction if necessary, while continuing services addressing students’ academic needs, and student and staff members’ social, emotional, mental health and other needs. That would include health and food services needs if the district had to return to remote instruction, acording to the five page plan.