November 19, 2020
A Look at the Numbers:
Since the beginning of the school year, Dripping Springs ISD has recorded a total of 49 test-confirmed COVID cases. Of those, 40 have been student cases and nine have been employees. When looking at our enrollment and the size of the workforce, the (cumulative) positive case count represents .76 percent of the total number of in-person learners (including those who come to campus for an extracurricular program) and .10 percent of all employees. The distribution between student and staff, as well as the campus breakdown, is available on the DSISD COVID dashboard. The case counts were spread out fairly evenly over the months of September and October, but an uptick has occurred in November.
We appreciate the daily self-screening of all students and staff before coming to campus. If an individual has any symptoms of COVID, he or she should stay home. Parents, please follow this guideline even if the symptoms are minor; “If in doubt, keep them out.” This process map, which provides guidance for parents, also addresses potential exposures outside of school. Thanks to all for following general safety protocols such as mask wearing, handwashing, and social distancing. All of these steps reduce the exposure risk and help stop the spread of any virus.
When the district learns of a positive case of COVID-19, we work through the contact-tracing process in collaboration with health professionals – starting with our campus nurses – and are guided by the Hays County Health Department and its epidemiologist based on the specifics of the case. A comprehensive process is followed for every student and staff case. Many factors come into play in identifying close contacts, including the individual's activities, locations, symptoms, etc. Every individual case has a specific set of conditions/variables that the district provides to the Health Department to make a determination. The Health Department also guides the district on the number of days that must be traced backwards from either the positive test result or the onset of symptoms. Consistent mask-wearing, handwashing, and social distancing can help minimize quarantine requirements. Working with the epidemiologist, we have not identified evidence of school-spread of the virus. This video shares additional information about the contact tracing process.
A list of free testing sites in Hays County includes a Curative mobile site at the Triangle in Dripping Springs Friday through Monday each week. The Curative sites use PCR or molecular tests that provide results within 24 to 48 hours and are 90 percent effective in determining whether a person has a current infection.
Other types of tests include rapid antigen tests that look for one or more specific proteins from the virus and provide quick results; these are not as accurate or reliable. Antibody tests look for antibodies in the blood and may indicate a past COVID-19 infection, but not always a current infection.
The timing of testing is also relevant. For many who think there may have been an exposure, their first instinct is to test immediately, potentially leading to a negative result and false sense of security. Because the incubation period for COVID-19 is anywhere from 2-14 days, it is not recommended to test right after an exposure.
Learning Format Choice:
The next opportunity for parents to choose between an in-person and a remote learning environment for the third grading period will be in December. The window to choose opens on Nov. 30 and closes on Dec. 11. Parents will be asked to log into Family Access to request the change; if they do not want to change their student’s status, no action is necessary.
To date, Dripping Springs ISD has experienced $1,059,507 in costs associated with COVID-19. The main categories of expenditures are disposable Personal Protective Equipment or PPE ($174,277), durable PPE ($206,348), and technology needed to support remote learners ($678,881). Hays County recently presented DSISD with $91,794 that was part of a reimbursement from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding granted earlier this year.
Be Safe Over Break:
While school holidays represent a valuable opportunity to rest and spend quality time with family, please remember we are living in a pandemic and personal choices can help minimize exposure and risk. Please continue to follow CDC guidelines and practice healthy habits like frequent handwashing, social distancing, and wearing of masks when outside the home.
If a positive test result is received over Thanksgiving Break, parents should email their principal and school nurse to let them know so that contact tracing can be done as needed.
We look forward to coming back for a productive three weeks prior to Winter Break! Be safe, stay healthy, and enjoy!