The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released a new Public Health Guidance for Texas schools regarding Executive Order GA-38 that provides legal authority to publish certain requirements for the operation of public school systems during the COVID 19 pandemic. The new guidance was released on Aug. 19, took effect immediately and addresses on-campus instruction, non-UIL extracurricular sports and activities and any other activities that students must complete.
All public school systems are required to notify their local health department. In the case of Atascosa County, who does not have one, Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Poteet and Charlotte ISD are to report to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TXDSHS) via an online form.
If an individual tests positive for COVID-19 and has been in school, the following protocol must take place:
1. The school must notify its local health department, in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabili- ties Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
2. Upon receipt of information that any teacher, staff member, student or visitor at a school is positive, the school must submit a report to the TXDSHS via an online form. The report must be submitted each Monday for the prior seven days (Monday-Sunday).
3. Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, schools must notify all teachers, staff and families of all students in a classroom or extracurricular or afterschool program cohort if a test-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participated in those classrooms or cohorts.
To see the complete TEA Public Health Guidance, please visit the TEA website at tea.texas.gov.
The Pleasanton Express reached out to each school district in Atascosa County as to what their protocols are for reporting positive COVID-19 cases on their campuses. In addition, we asked for their total number of enrolled students for the 2021-2022 school year and the total number of students absent since the start of the year. The absentee numbers do not specifically reflect just COVID-19 cases.
Superintendent Dr. Matthew Mann explained that PISD notifies parents and staff of lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases through their app called EDLIO.
“The Primary and Elementary schools we are notifying by grade level. For the Junior High and High School, since they exchange classes, we are notifying the entire campus,” said Dr. Mann.
Pleasanton Express Business Manager Rhonda Chancellor, who has a daughter at Pleasanton Junior High, stated that since school started on Aug. 9, she has received a total of eight alerts of COVID-19 cases on the junior high campus.
For the 2021-2022 school year, a total of 3,417 students are enrolled at Pleasanton ISD: 994 in high school, 762 in junior high, 985 in elementary and 676 in primary.
Dr. Mann explained that he keeps track of atendance percentage each week for the entire district and by campus.
“Our historic average is between 94-95% of attendance,” said Dr. Mann. “Currently, we are encouraging our parents to keep their students home if they have a family member or someone in the house that has a lab confirmed positive test. If students or staff are feeling sick, we ask them to stay home. As you can see [by the percentages] we are experiencing a number of students and staff out due to COVID and other illnesses including a stomach virus. However, overall we are pleased with the percentages due to the circumstances.”
Attendance percentage from Aug. 9-27 is:
• High School – 88%
• Junior High – 87%
• Elementary – 88%
• Primary – 88%
• District – 88%
Dr. Mann explained that staff absences have mirrored that of the student percentages.
Jourdanton ISD welcomed 1,558 students back on Aug. 11 for the new school year.
According to Superintendent Theresa McAllister, JISD is notifying parents via letters about lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases.
“JISD is sending a letter to the parent via text message to the grade level in which a student is positive for Pre-K through 8th grade. For a positive high school student, we are sending a letter to all high school parents,” she said.
Since the start of school through Aug. 27, the percentage of student attendance is at 85%.
Poteet ISD started school last Monday, Aug. 23.
According to Superintendent Charles Camarillo, they will be notifying parents and the community in multiple ways about positive COVID-19 cases on campus: website, Facebook, school messenger and phone calls and physical letters when appropriate.
Total enrollment for the 21-22 school year at Poteet ISD is 1,627 students. After just one week of school, the total number of student absences is at 65.
Charlotte ISD welcomed students back on Aug. 10. Superintendent Mario Sotelo explained that CISD is following all TEA guidelines in notifying about COVID-19 as follows:
• Notify the local health department and TXDSHS of COVID-positive results.
• All stakeholders are notified of COVID-positive students and staff daily.
• COVID-positive individuals are reported by cohort such as specific sports team, grade level, etc. through texts, emails and phone calls updated daily.
Charlotte ISD did not get back with us before press time on their enrollment numbers and absences.