Since mid-March, there has been much focus on the immediate future and “the curve.”  Whether the curve has been flattened or not, we are reopening the economy and that has sent a signal that normality is returning. However, what will likely happen in the next month or two is woefully inadequate information for planning. For the immediate future, the only thing that will change is people’s behavior. The coronavirus may wane with the change of seasons, but that is unknown. Behavior and seasonality are the two main variables that control our future. view article arw

EVERMAN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A child nutrition employee at Everman ISD who assisted with the distribution of meals during the school closures has tested positive for COVID-19, Superintendent Dr. Curtis Amos announced Tuesday.  “Out of an abundance of caution, meals prepared and distributed at Everman High School to students will be cancelled until further notice,” Dr. Amos said in a letter to faculty and parents. “During this time, the high school cafeteria will be deeply sanitized.” view article arw

After months of emphasis on diagnostic screening, contact tracing and research into possible treatments, Houston is about to deploy a new tool in the effort to contain COVID-19: antibody testing.Baylor College of Medicine researchers last week presented evidence to school leadership that the blood test it developed to detect whether an individual has been infected with the coronavirus is highly accurate and ready for use in studies assessing the virus’ reach in the area. Such studies would provide the answer that has not been ascertainable because of the shortage of diagnostic testing. view article arw

Notiice the second chart!  The Express-News has lifted the paywall on this article to provide critical information to our community. To support vital coverage of this and other topics, invest in a digital subscription. For regular updates on our coverage, sign up for our breaking news email alert.  (Click on headline. Scroll down to yellow bar chart.)    (22) view article arw

After the Centers for Disease Control issued considerations for schools reopening, Parker County school officials say their biggest concern is a lack of guidance from the state level.  The CDC’s guiding principles broke down school operations from lowest risk to highest risk on the spread of COVID-19. According to the principles, students and teachers engaging in virtual-only classes, activities and events is considered the “lowest risk.” Small, in-person classes, activities and events — groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout school days and groups do not mix; students stay six-feet apart and do not share objects — is considered “more risk.” And full sized, in-person classes, activities and events — students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies and mix between classes and activities — is considered the “highest risk.” view article arw

SAN ANTONIO - Going to school during the heat of the summer is not typically a priority for either parents or their kids.  But the "COVID slide" that slowed learning for some students over the past two months could have a dramatic impact on summer school attendance this year.  "I think sometimes there’s a stigma around summer school, that summer school is punitive in some way," says Barry Perez, executive director of communications for Northside Independent School District. "I think this year you really have to look at it differently." view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Now that the final inspection process is back on track to get the new Manor and Del Valle ISD police departments online, more than a dozen Travis County Sheriff’s Office deputies assigned to those campuses could move to alternative duties.  KXAN discovered this week that eleven newly formed Texas police departments couldn’t open until they received a final inspection from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. Those onsite visits were halted by an order from the governor’s office due to coronavirus, according to TCOLE. view article arw

The end of the 2019-2020 school year did not end the way we all expected. I commend all of our families and students for making the adjustments with us in true Garner Greatness fashion.  The Garner ISD staff made a shift in a matter of hours to provide the best learning environment possible. Staff members did everything possible to ensure the things that make Garner GREAT continued to happen from educational support and learning all the way down to our daily pledges and prayer led by staff and students. view article arw

“What’s going on with our schools? How are they adapting to the coronavirus? How are they planning for the future? what does the future look like?” said Dr. Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of Children At Risk.  No one knows for sure what going to school will actually look like after the COVID-19 pandemic, especially at the state's two largest districts.  “Reduced students in the classroom, reduced staff, staff also working in a virtual format, some face-to-face,” Houston ISD interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan said. “I believe a number of our parents are going to want to keep their students at home, so we’ll need to continue to provide them with that option.” view article arw

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa decided early in the pandemic he would close schools indefinitely, recognizing he would take some heat in the short term for the call.  Dallas Independent School District was just recovering from a tornado when Michael Hinojosa saw the news.   In his 25 years of being an educator, "this virus was different from anything" he'd experienced before. Prior to other closures, the Dallas superintendent would usually get some clues from the media about what's going to happen next and how to proceed.  But as word rolled out about the coronavirus, "the data started changing so fast and so significantly." view article arw

Districts largely rebuff governor’s June 1 start day, say they’ll stick to schooling online  Districts largely rebuff governor’s June 1 start day, say they’ll stick to schooling online  Texas public schools can launch summer classes as early as June 1, as long as they follow social distancing and health protocols laid out by the Department of State Health Services. The task would require daily temperature checks, keeping students’ desks 6 feet apart and limiting enclosed classrooms to 11, including the teacher.  Abbott’s announcement May 18 comes as part of the governor’s second phase of reopening the state after the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread closures. But ever since schools were shuttered in mid-March, educators have grappled with a plan for reopening. view article arw

The CARE Zone has gone virtual to provide mental health resources, services  SAN ANTONIO – A pilot program that began during the 2019-2020 school year at South San ISD, called the CARE Zone, was a new way for students, parents and staff to be able to take advantage of free mental health resources.  However, the CARE Zone had to switch gears this Spring when the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close. Everything switched to an online platform and a hotline was set up for parents. view article arw

Administrators at the Ben Bolt ISD are taking extra precautions after a district employee was potentially exposed to the coronavirus.  In a post on the district's social media page, Superintendent Mike Barrera said an employee's immediate family member tested for the virus, but the results have not been released yet. view article arw

Safety in the performing arts tends to slip through the cracks during the best of times, but a program at the University of North Texas is trying to keep that from happening.  We Mean Clean launched earlier this month when organizers sent out video tutorials to school districts across the state in hopes of helping students safely clean their instruments before returning them to their schools.  The initiative was spurred on by the ongoing pandemic, but the fight to keep instruments clean is not pandemic-specific, said UNT professor Kris Chesky.  The program is a coordinated effort between UNT’s Texas Center for Performing Arts Health, which Chesky founded and co-directs, and Denton ISD. view article arw

Not only did the pandemic shift education online, support services for students also went virtual.  The director of College Station ISD student services, Chrissy Hester, says counselors will be available for their students during the summer.  Hester says for those who are uncomfortable speaking with a counselor, it’s important to reach out to a teacher or the school nurse.  Counselors are also keeping tabs on each other. view article arw

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said officials there are spreading out homeless shelter residents after dozens tested positive in one day.  Nursing homes, jails and prisons have become well-known locations for coronavirus outbreaks, but Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has identified another major hotspot for COVID-19 cases in his city: homeless shelters.  Speaking at a Houston food distribution drive Saturday, where he was volunteering, Turner said 77 of the 183 additional people who had tested positive for the virus lived in homeless shelters, ABC13 Houston reported.  (26) view article arw

HENDERSON, Texas (KETK) – A Henderson ISD elementary school teacher has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Superintendent Thurston Lamb.  The teacher works at Northside Elementary School and was present on campus recently. Lamb said that the teacher interacted with other district employees and parents on May 11 as well as parents dropping off supplies. She developed symptoms just a few days later. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Austin Independent School District task force considers a range of scenarios for academics in the fall, one option receiving attention is the possibility of only 25% of students returning to in-person learning. In this scenario, each school day’s student population would be capped at 25% of the school’s capacity, similar to the restrictions which have been imposed on restaurants in the past. view article arw

Like many educators dealing with the fallout of COVID-19, Northside Independent School District Superintendent Brian Woods is losing sleep, brewing over plans to reopen schools first to the kids who have lost the most.  No two days have been the same since schools closed in March. No two days will be the same for a long time, he suspects. Every plan has a contingency plan, and every contingency plan has multiple variations to account for community outbreaks, funding losses and the numerous “what-ifs” of bringing 107,000 students back to school at some point. view article arw

The new extended guidance covers reopening schools, child-care facilities, restaurants and mass transit, as explained in this Washington Post story. You can also read the entire set of guidelines at the bottom of this post.  The CDC made clear that opening many institutions should be guided by the transmission rates of the novel coronavirus in each community.  Here’s what the CDC issued for schools and camps, complete with every link the agency provided.   (22) view article arw

Texas health officials made a key change Thursday to how they report data about the coronavirus, distinguishing antibody tests from standard viral tests and prompting slight increases in the state’s oft-cited daily statistic known as the positivity rate.  The positivity rate is the ratio of the confirmed cases to total tests, presented by the state as a seven-day rolling average. The Texas Department State of Health Services disclosed for the first time Thursday that as of a day earlier, it had counted 49,313 antibody tests as as part of its "total tests" tally. That represents 6.4% of the 770,241 total tests that the state had reported through Wednesday.   (22) view article arw

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Garland ISD is observing it with a variety of tips, tools and fun activities. The guidance and counseling team is hosting a social media challenge, sharing tips, promoting virtual mental health screenings, focusing on weekly themes and more.  These tools are not only available to staff, students and their families but everyone in the community as well. view article arw

All Madisonville Consolidated Independent School District (MCISD) campuses will incorporate a new visitor management system from Raptor Technologies in order to ensure complete control over anyone entering district’s schools.  The digital system allows the front desk personnel to know exactly who is entering the building along with their business therein. The visitor is asked to slide their identification card and the system runs an immediate criminal history and prints a report. If they pass, they receive their identification cards back and are welcome to enter the school area. view article arw

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — With the coronavirus pandemic still looming over North Texas, school districts across the area are adjusting, adapting and getting creative to celebrate 2020 graduates. “I’m just happy I actually got to have one,” shared Lancaster High School student Kim Bryant. view article arw

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Students and employees of the El Paso Independent School District can get tested for COVID-19 at the Burnet health site beginning this Friday.  The testing, which also will be available to community members, was approved by the school board during a Tuesday morning meeting.  EPISD nurses will be the ones giving the tests as long as they are referred by a doctor in the Virtual Care for Kids network, a district news release said. view article arw

Texas lawmakers are questioning the hastily-awarded, multi-million dollar contract that put a little-known company in charge of the state’s effort to track down people who may be infected with the coronavirus.  Hearst Newspapers reported last weekend that Texas will give MTX Group up to $295 million over a 27-month period to hire contact tracers and create a call center to find people who were exposed to the virus. Building up a force of contact tracers is key to the state’s strategy for limiting the spread of coronavirus as Texas reopens its economy.   (20) view article arw

The number of children’s hospitals in Austin is set to double in the next three years. Texas Children’s Hospital plans to open a women’s and children’s hospital in Austin during the fourth quarter of 2023. It will be in North Austin at North Lake Creek Parkway and Texas 45. The $450 million project is expected to be 360,000 square feet with 48 beds and room to expand on the site.  With this new hospital, Austin will grow in 10 years from one children’s hospital to four. It’s part of the growth story of Central Texas, which now is estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to have 2.2 million people in the metropolitan area and have grown by 29.76% since 2010. That’s the biggest growth among the largest 100 metropolitan areas. view article arw

All 23 Denton County high schools plan to hold their graduation ceremonies at TMS. They're averaging two per day.  Students are grateful for the chance to walk as planned, even if the venue and set up is different.  It's a different kind of event that's attracting spectators to the Texas Motor Speedway. The giant race track has been transformed into a graduation venue. TMS offered up the outdoor facility to all Denton County schools after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled traditional indoor graduation plans. view article arw

WHITEHOUSE, Texas (KETK) – The Whitehouse ISD Board of Trustees approved Monday a policy that will allow authorized personnel to carry concealed weapons on campus.  The board said it approved The Guardian Plan in the belief that “everyone has the right to a safe and caring environment.”  Only employees approved by the board will be authorized to participate in the program Those employees will be required to complete 80 hours of training, 56 prior to carrying and concealing an approved firearm. Each participant will be required to pass a physical and psychological exam. view article arw

Daily temperature checks and supervised hand-washing are some of the safety rules for schools that decide to hold in-person classes this summer, under new guidance from the Texas Education Agency.  Texas public school districts may offer summer school in their classrooms as early as June 1, but they cannot require any students to attend in person.  In April, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all school buildings closed through the end of the academic year, but he announced Monday that districts could offer in-person summer school. The decision came as part of his second wave of the economic jumpstart during the coronavirus pandemic, with parents struggling to figure out how to work and take care of their children.  view article arw

With the coronavirus pandemic, the annual Volunteers & Partners celebration couldn’t be held, but the district is still making efforts to recognize them.  The district’s theme this year has been “BIG BOLD BRAVE.”  “Our theme truly reflects parents and students, our community and school staff working toward achieving the same goal of academic growth for every learner,” Community Engagement Specialist Debbie Lieb said in a news release. “We faced the unexpected and overcame challenges with grit and determination. The partnership between school/home/community deepened throughout this academic year with unified efforts to continue remote learning together while apart.  This week, we celebrate finishing strong for all students and families and the graduation class of 2020, the culmination of hard work and collaboration.” view article arw

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas - Comal ISD will be limiting the number of guests for each graduate, when it does have its in-person ceremonies.  The district said Monday it will be giving each senior five tickets for graduation, which has not yet been assigned a date. However, the TEA said districts can hold such ceremonies after June 1. Students will also be given two parking passes each, to help with social distancing and the parking at the stadium where the ceremony will be held. view article arw

Texas education leaders can re-open campuses for in-person summer school starting June 1, as long as they institute safety protocols that include limiting the number of people in classrooms and checking students’ body temperature each day, state officials said Monday. The announcement by Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Education Agency leaders marks the first possible return to schools for some of the state’s 5 million-plus students, who have been forced to stay home since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. State officials are not mandating that schools resume face-to-face instruction, leaving that decision to local leaders. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to reopen child care centers and youth camps takes pressure off parents, but safety guidelines may be unaffordable for some providers.  Gov. Greg Abbott is immediately allowing all child care services to open for children of all workers, lifting a previous order limiting care to children of essential workers.  The decision came Monday as Abbott announced his next wave of reopenings to restart Texas' economy during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing businesses across Texas to ramp up operations and bring their workers back. He said summer camps, scouting camps, 4-H camps and youth programs such as Little League will be able to open May 31.   (19) view article arw