By Brittany Anderson
Following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Hays CISD is working to implement air purifiers across the district that were approved months ago to help keep the air clean at every campus.
HCISD is installing more than 1,700 Novaerus NV900 air purifiers — a $4.4 million purchase which was approved after weeks of deliberation by a 6-0 vote by the HCISD board during the Sept. 27 meeting.
The $4.4 million comes from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.
In an email sent out on Jan. 3, HCISD Chief Communication Officer Tim Savoy said the district had begun installing the air purifiers in every classroom and other strategic places at campuses. The installation will continue over the next several weeks until all campuses are completely covered.
The units will be placed in every classroom in the district, as well as nurses offices, reception areas, extracurricular rooms, gyms, cafeterias and libraries.
The delivery and installation of the purifiers were delayed because the board wanted to test the effectiveness of the equipment before the final purchase was finalized.
“The air purifiers will not only aid in neutralizing viruses like COVID and the flu, they are also designed to help reduce other airborne contaminants, including pollen that causes allergies,” Savoy wrote in the email.
In Sept. 2021, Tobias Elementary was shut down due to more than 10% of the campus testing positive for COVID.
Between Aug. and Oct. 2021, multiple individual elementary school classrooms were also shut down due to more than 10% of the classroom testing positive for COVID.
Savoy also said that due to the sharp rise in case counts amid the spread of the Omicron variant, the district has suspended plans to relax visitor restrictions on campuses during the school day and other safety protocols that the district had hoped to modify this month.
“The district will continue with the strictest COVID safety protocols allowed by state law and the Texas Education Agency,” Savoy wrote, which includes regular and vigorous building cleaning and sanitization, strongly encouraging mask wearing and recommending vaccines and booster shots for those who are eligible.
The district is also continuing to monitor COVID cases and maintain a daily case-count dashboard.
According to the dashboard, in the week before Christmas break, there were 12 student cases and 7 staff cases district-wide. Since the start of the school year, there have been a cumulative 1,055 student cases and 197 staff cases district-wide.
“We should all prepare for a bit of an uncertain January,” Savoy wrote. “We’ll need to give each other continued grace, understanding and flexibility as we see what unfolds with Omicron. We’ll keep our focus on doing what we can do about the virus and what we need to do to keep students in class, where we know they have better academic results and social and emotional experiences.”