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Weekly Update February 12, 2021
Winter Storm Plans (2/12/2021)
Next week has the potential to be challenging with extremely low temperatures and possible wintery mix. We are attempting to plan for all contingencies. Before any decision is made about closing schools, we consult with county, state, and any other necessary officials. We try to get reports of road conditions (both current and forecast). We often have district officials personally checking roads when it is safe to do so. We also remain in contact with other organizations (such as school districts). We try our best to decide the day prior to a closure. We will be watching the weather Monday and evaluating as best we can for Tuesday. However, we also are being warned of a second storm coming in on the heels of this one.
IF FACE TO FACE CLASSES WERE CANCELLED, here is how it would look:
We would notify major tv stations, KSam, the Huntsville Item, and of course all usual social media outlets that we are moving to remote learning for a given day(s)
High school, junior high, and intermediate students would access their classes with their computers and hot spots for instruction for any days that we must stay home due to weather. Students would be expected to log in and complete work for grades and attendance. Students have been working on this at school already.
Elementary students would have materials that come home today that would be worked on ONLY if we had to stay home next week on any day(s) due to weather. Students would return with their packets completed ONLY if we missed school and that would allow us to mark attendance and grades for students. By spring break, we hope to have elementary also ready with technology if the need arises again.
WE hope that we are here as normal next week! However, remote option for this storm is being allowed by TEA so that students are not forced to make up time during the summer, extend the year etc. and it also allows us to practice remote learning with the older students for other extended emergencies if they ever occur
Covid update (2/12/2021)
For our weekly Covid update,
Elementary—1 new case no close contacts occurred.
Intermediate—0 new cases
Junior high—1 new staff case and 1 new student—no close contacts occurred.
High school—3 new student cases—any close contacts were identified.
Overall, we have seen a small decline in cases this week. Again, we tend to see things in cycles, and we are hopeful that we are starting the end of a cycle. However, please continue to be careful, use good hygiene, and keep safe.
Stay warm and safe this weekend!
Darol Hail, Ed. D.
Weekly Update February 5, 2021
Weekly update February 5, 2021 (for confirmed information as of Friday morning)
For our weekly update,
• Elementary—1 new case—no close contacts
• Intermediate—2 additional cases—any close contacts were identified and informed
• Junior high—5 cases—any close contacts were identified and informed.
• High school—No new cases
Overall, we continue to look for trends and continue to follow all protocols. We do see an increase of cases at the junior high. Many families continue to report to us that they are seeing 1 family member passing the virus to others within the family.
In terms of our process, when we are given notification of a positive case, we begin contact tracing. Should a student who was already out for close contact (or any other reason) become positive but were away from campus, then there would not necessarily be close contacts.
We appreciate your support and understanding. The process itself is somewhat fluid. Unfortunately, there is not just one flow chart we can follow in figuring out the scenarios as they can be varied, even in the same family.
As a result, we again ask that if your student has any symptoms at all, err on the side of caution. Many families have reported an increase of asymptomatic positives. So as always:
• Practice good hygiene
• Social distance wherever possible; use masks as appropriate or required by businesses
• Protect yourself and your family as best you can
• If you have symptoms—STAY home
• Take care of yourselves
Stay warm and safe this weekend!
Darol Hail, Ed. D.
Weekly Update January 29, 2021
Weekly update January 29, 2021
We hope you have a good and safe weekend. In terms of our positive Covid cases, we have not seen a huge number of cases, but we are seeing some increases. In many of these situations, families have been reporting to us that the cases are occurring due to contact outside of school. In fact, we have had many reports that positive cases are occurring due to being in close contact with another family member. This information seems to correspond with details we were given by county health officials which suggested that the newer strains seem to be more contagious.
As for New Waverly ISD, we have the following increases in positive cases since last week:
Elementary—2 cases—none of which were in close contact with other students according to our investigation
Intermediate—2 additional cases—any close contacts were identified and informed
Junior high—1 case (close contacts were identified and informed)
High school—1 case (close contacts were identified and notified)
In terms of staff, most of staff who were positive or close contact are being integrated back onto the campuses as they complete protocols. There was one new positive but no close contact with students or staff.
Our own data seems to support the information from health officials that positive cases within a household are spreading to other family members more so than what appeared to happen in the fall. Again, this is a trend and certainly NOT an official medical statement. Often this is a result of parent or caregiver being unable to separate completely from children. This is to be expected since parents have the task of taking care of family even when sick. Again, if your children test positive or become a close contact, please stay in communication with your campus so that we can help support you educationally.
It’s hard to believe that we are approaching a year of dealing with Covid. I feel truly blessed to have so many positive voices and attitudes in our community dealing with situations that likely none of us really know how to best handle. We have had great, hardworking teachers/staff, supportive and positive parents/guardians, administrators and Trustees who have continued to try to come up with supportive plans and ideas, and hosts of others who have given time and resources. Our students have been even more impressive. They are dealing with being kids and trying to do school at a time when everything in the world about them looks and acts very differently!
It sounds repetitive but keep hanging on!
Darol Hail, Ed. D.
Weekly Update January 19, 2021
Weekly update January 19, 2021
In terms of general updates, we will only be updating our current situation as it stands regarding Covid.
As you well know, Walker County has seen an increase in numbers of confirmed positive tests for Covid. Student wise, we have not received many confirmed positives. However, we do have one high school student and two intermediate students who are currently positive. As we have done all school year, we will continue to:
Contact trace as best we can (this includes informing students/staff who are deemed close contact).
Enact all cleaning protocols.
Continually adjust where we can in our operations at the campus or district level.
Encourage everyone to practice social distancing, use of masks, good hygiene, etc. as appropriate.
We have had 12 faculty/staff members either test positive or be deemed close contacts. As with students, we provide only information that is legally available.
High School: 4 cases that are either close contact or positive—none of which were deemed to have had close contact with students.
Junior High: currently no positive or close contact cases.
Intermediate: 6 cases that are either close contact or positive—of these cases 5 have been deemed to have no close contact. Any students who are determined to be close contact in the remaining case will be directly contacted by the campus. The intermediate campus will provide any further needed information tomorrow.
Elementary: 2 cases that are either close contact or positive—none of which had close contact with students.
Reminder: as per TEA rules, the benefit of students and faculty wearing masks means they will not meet the definition of close contact—while that does not guarantee safety, it will allow greater flexibility.
WE CURRENTLY HAVE NO PLANS TO MOVE TO REMOTE.
In most cases at the faculty level, we are dealing with close contacts.
NWISD would only consider campus remote learning IF we were unable to safely staff a campus with teachers or certified substitutes OR if we have an outbreak of student cases.
If we have any need to transfer to a remote setting, we would ideally do it only on a campus that is directly impacted and ONLY for a short period of time (i.e. what occurred in the fall).
Our goal is stay safe and stay open.
When we have cases, we want to see if we can find commonality. Are there factors that contribute to positive cases or close contacts? These are questions we also attempt to trace with faculty and staff, and we do our best to put all the data together. Those pieces of information allow us to determine where close contacts might exist. In many cases this year, we see several cases occur (either close contact or actual positive cases) that seem to have no common thread. Other times we might discover a possible connection and we then work to improve. We will do the same here as well. We will continue to provide you information as we have done all school year.
January 5, 2021 Update
December 16, 2020 Update
Weekly update for December 9, 2020
We hope that everyone is having a great start to December. While it is certainly a challenging world we are dealing with, we continue to persevere! Here are some important takeaways as we head into the final 8 school days:
WE HAVE NO PLANS TO GO REMOTE—NOR DO WE HAVE ENOUGH CASES TO EVEN CONSIDER GOING REMOTE! As we did earlier in the fall, we will continue to update positive cases we can confirm, and we will continue to address these needs ongoing. Yesterday channel 11 from Houston ran a report that listed NWISD as having 2.5% of students with COVID. What they did not mention is that the number is based on the report of total cases ever reported. Since September 20, the total reported cases are less than half of a percent.
We had one positive case occur at the intermediate campus last week; no other positive cases reported. We performed contact tracing and all other protocols to make the school as safe as possible.
Our junior high campus is moving to a one-to-one situation with computers. This is part of our overall plan for the school year AND the future. This is NOT because we are going remote—it is to provide students with tools they will need to be successful no matter the setting. In fact, students should expect to bring computers with them to school each day. Our next campus to go one-to-one will be the intermediate.
Our high school is preparing for finals. Teachers have taken some additional time this week in preparing students how to handle online classes only as preparation in the event something occurred that required finals to move online. We expect the rest of the semester to be completed without interruption. However, just as we must prepare for difficult situations through practice (i.e. a fire drills), we are working with students so that they can be ready IF we must ever go remote as a campus/district.
TEA has adopted new rules for close contact—Accordingly we are adjusting to these rules as well. From the beginning we have used TEA guidelines whenever possible. The adjustment deals ONLY with close contact individuals who show NO signs of Covid. Students and staff will be allowed to choose quarantine periods as follows since all are supported by CDC and TEA:
Close contact and No symptoms—may return after 7 days from the last close contact AND if the student has a negative test result from a test taken after day 5
Close contact and No symptoms—may return after 10 days from last close contact…no test needed.
Close contact and No symptoms—may wait full 14 days
Students and staff who test positive will follow the same protocols as we have followed all semester
We hope that you have a great week and are preparing to have a wonderful Christmas!
Weekly update for November 16-20, 2020
We are providing an update today to address several issues. First and foremost, we have received notification of a positive Covid case at New Waverly Junior High. We have enacted all our protocols in attempting to address this issue.
We have worked to identify close contacts through contract tracing
We have notified parents of anyone who was deemed close contact
We are providing additional cleaning/disinfecting to the junior high campus
At this point, we have 1 confirmed case
An additional challenge has been that TEA has again changed the definition of close contact (as has the CDC). Accordingly, the amount of time needed to be deemed as a close contact is now 15 minutes cumulative (versus uninterrupted). The use of masks does allow for students to avoid close contact. As we did earlier in the fall, we will keep you updated.
As we move closer to the Thanksgiving Holiday, we understand that families will continue to address the ongoing pandemic as they see fit. Some will choose not to travel and gather with family and friends, and some will choose to celebrate the holiday in a traditional fashion. We simply ask that however your family chooses to observe the time, please be cautious and wise. Additionally, should anyone not feel well after the holiday, please be wise about returning to school. While we normally want everyone to come to school, we still acknowledge that this is the one year when we encourage you to keep your students at home if there is any question to their health for an extra day etc.
Thanksgiving Holiday begins Friday at Noon for car riders and 12:30 for bus riders. The campuses will be still be open for remote learning contacts as normal.
We appreciate all the hard work that has occurred this school year from everyone. Faculty and staff have dealt with unprecedented challenges in meeting the needs of all students. They have worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for students in both face to face and remote learning situations. Students have handled incredible amounts of change to their normal school lives. They have worked to overcome the deficits in learning. They have dealt with changes in their educational and social lives. And of course, our parents and community continue to deal with the stress in their own lives while working for the betterment of their children.
I am thankful to all who serve for the betterment of our students. The pandemic has caused great stress to our community, whether it be loss of life, illness, or economic pressures. Yet, New Waverly continues to work and deal with these stresses in a magnificent manner.
I pray that everyone has a safe thanksgiving!