WATCH: Malakoff High School closed for three days due to COVID-19

ETN: Malakoff ISD Superintendent Don Layton

MALAKOFF, Texas (KLTV) - Malakoff ISD has announced they are closing the high school for three days after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

“We closed it out of an abundance of caution,” Don Layton, Malakoff ISD’s superintendent, said during an interview with East Texas Now host Jeremy Butler Monday morning. “We were notified on Sunday about a positive COVID case. I met with my administrative staff, and we just thought we needed to be able to trace this appropriately, and that’s kind of hard to do on a Sunday.”

Layton said the school district will do a deep cleaning of the high school campus today and again on Wednesday. He added they will open the high school back up on Thursday and pick back up where they left off.

The Malakoff football game scheduled for Friday has been moved to Oct. 30. The volleyball game will be played Friday as scheduled.

Students will participate in remote, or “asynchronous,” learning during the break, Layton said.

Layton said that because of the contact tracing that has been done, they were able to limit the campus closures to just the high school. He said they pretty well know the groups that students interact with regularly, and they were able to get a good idea of who the COVID-19-positive student had been around at school.

“That also spoke volumes about our kids and staff following the procedures - wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing,” Layton said.

During the ETN interview, Layton said Malakoff ISD has about 1,400 students, and they have been very fortunate in that only five students have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. He said that the school district’s leadership has been able to show “stakeholders” like parents and guardians that they’re focused on the safety of their students and staff.

“When it comes to the safety of our students and staff, we’re not going to cut any corners,” Layton said.

Layton said since the start of school, Malakoff ISD’s percentage of on-campus learners has held steady at about 80 percent. The remaining students have been doing distance learning.

When asked about teachers having to fill dual roles with in-person and distance learning, Layton said Malakoff ISD’s staff has done an excellent job in navigating the changes caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, it’s a lot of additional stress for the teachers, he added.

To try to help relieve some of that stress, Malakoff ISD’s leadership is letting teachers do on-campus instruction from 8 a.m. to about 1:45 p.m. Then, the students are sent home, and the teachers are allowed to do their virtual instruction until about 3:45 p.m. Layton said they will be at tonight’s school board to request permission to keep splitting the school days like that for another four weeks.

At a question about whether Malakoff ISD will make any of the changes permanent after the COVID-19 crisis settles down, Layton said Malakoff ISD’s teachers have gotten great at online teaching.

“It’s a pain sometimes, but wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing are working,” Layton said. “I want to thank the students, teachers, and parents for wearing their masks. If we continue to follow the safety protocols, we come out of this just fine.”

To watch the entire interview, click the video above.

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