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Waskom ISD superintendent: 50-60% of elementary school staff out due to COVID-19

All campuses closed through Monday, Aug. 23
Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2021 at 7:26 PM CDT
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WASKOM, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas superintendent is sharing more information about what led to a decision to temporarily close her district due to COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Waskom ISD Superintendent Rae Ann Patty announced that all campuses would be closed through Monday, Aug. 23, with classes resuming Tuesday, Aug. 24. The announcement came after a decision earlier in the week to close the elementary school campus.

In a Thursday interview on East Texas Now, Patty explained why the decision was made to close all campuses.

“We had about 50 to 60% of our staff in our elementary school out,” she said. “And so with that many staff members out we could not find substitutes to cover all of that, so we decided to go ahead and close down our schools. And then at our high school, we had started seeing an increase in our students there that were COVID positive. And so we went ahead and closed down our high school and middle school to stop the spread.”

While closed, Patty says all campuses will undergo a deep cleaning by custodians.

“We’re fogging,” she said. “We are doing our atomizer gun spraying so that the disinfectant can get down and kill all of the germs. That’s on our hard surfaces and our soft surfaces.”

And while health experts say surface and air cleaning does help, they know the virus primarily spreads through respiratory droplets from those carrying the virus. Patty said while Governor Abbott’s mandate prevents them from requiring masks, they will recommend safe practices when students return, in hopes of preventing another closure.

“Our school district is always going to recommend that we will do what they need to do to be safe. But of course, we’re going to follow the governor’s executive orders as well,” she said.

And while the plan is to send students back on Tuesday morning, Patty said that all depends on how many students are still sick and if they have enough staff members healthy and ready to work.

“If we cannot staff our campuses, then we would have to restart another day,” Patty said. “As far as our students, we try to use the about a 10% threshold when we start looking at positive cases as to whether or not we need to push that date back.”

Patty is asking parents to keep sick students home. She says the district is set up to do remote learning. However, each student is limited to 20 days of remote instruction unless there’s a documented medical emergency.

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