A letter from Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright
Dear Hays CISD Family,
This afternoon and this evening, district leadership and the district’s COVID Response Task Force met to make decisions regarding the district’s response to the Delta variant surge in COVID cases. We pledge to do whatever we can, even if we’re not required by the state, to ensure that safety is paramount. The following protocols will begin on Monday, August 16, 2021:
Close Contact Tracing & Informing Parents About Positive Cases
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is not requiring school districts to conduct close contact tracing. Hays CISD will do it anyway. The district is also not required to report positive cases, but the district will provide notification to you anyway. And, we will report them on the district’s COVID dashboard.
Close Contact & Positive Case Quarantine
If a staff member or student tests positive, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, they will be required to quarantine (currently 10 days). Students and teachers who have not tested positive, but have been determined to have been in close contact with a person who tested positive, will be required to quarantine if they have not been vaccinated. Vaccinated individuals who have not tested positive, but are considered a close contact, will not have to quarantine.
“Remote Conferencing for Students” – the New Virtual Learning for Positive Cases
TEA will allow school districts to offer what is considered “remote conferencing” for students while they are out on required quarantine. This is will be a continuation of their current class work for a brief time period at home. It will combine asynchronous learning with access to a Hays CISD certified teacher. These teachers will not be the regular teachers for the students. They will instead be dedicated, separate teachers, who are focusing on students in remote conferencing.
Hays CISD Will Urge People to Wear Masks
The governor has decreed that school districts cannot require masks at schools. Last week, Hays CISD strongly recommended them. This week, the district is urging people to wear them at school.
Some have reached out to the district asking that it defy the governor’s mask order. At this time, I believe that without any enforcement power, which the district does not have, we cannot actually “require” masks.
Homebound Academy Instruction
The district is continuing its Homebound Academy program for learners who have a doctor’s permission to learn from home during this wave of the pandemic.
Limiting Large Gatherings
The district is declaring a moratorium on non-essential, large gatherings. Where possible, the district will begin limiting large gatherings until such time as the district determines (in consultation with medical and safety experts) that this wave of COVID has safely subsided. This means the district’s annual convocation that was originally scheduled for next Monday has been canceled. Additionally, next Monday’s professional development training for teachers and staff will be either offered remotely or decentralized at home campuses. Elementary meet the teacher nights will now be virtual. Check with your campus for more information about changes to specific events.
The district will enforce a 50% cap on fan capacity at athletic venues, including Shelton Stadium. Current ticket sales will be honored, but fans will be spread out for social distancing safety. If more than 50% of tickets have not been sold for a particular venue, the venue will cap sales at 50% capacity.
The district will be closing campuses to regular visitors and all non-essential personnel in an effort to limit the number of people in each building until such time as the district determines (in consultation with medical and safety experts) that this wave of COVID has safely subsided.
All staff and students will be expected to continue with self-screening for symptoms. If someone has COVID symptoms, such as a fever, they must stay home.
Additional Safety Protocols
The district has additional protocols online (cleaning, sanitizing, etc.), as well as all other coronavirus information conveniently located at: www.hayscisd.net/coronavirus.
The best advice is to get vaccinated if you qualify. We can speed up our return to normalcy by encouraging everyone to get shots. Looking at the graphs of new cases for the state and for Hays County, we are seeing numbers that are not as high as the peak last winter, but they are higher than what we saw at the start of last school year. This is not the way we wanted to start the 2021 -2022 school year, but we will make the best of it. And we will make safety decisions that are in the best interest of our students, families, and our staff. We continue to be Hays CISD Strong!
Stay tuned and stay safe.
Dr. Eric Wright