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District Update on Safety and Quarantine Protocols

March 7, 2021

The Governor's recent executive order has generated some important questions from our community that we would like to discuss and address with our families.

DSISD Safety Protocols to Continue

While we are hopeful that conditions will continue to improve, the district intends to maintain current safety protocols, including the requirement for students and staff to wear face masks. These protocols are supported by health officials, and the Texas Education Agency.

TEA issued follow-up guidance for schools last week, which included the following language:
Every student, teacher, or staff member shall wear a mask over the nose and mouth when inside a school building, school facility, facility used for school activities, or when in an outdoor space on school property or used for school activities, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.

One of the contributing reasons we have managed to keep our schools open through this pandemic has been the adherence to safety protocols by staff, students, and parents. We continue to see positive COVID-19 cases, but our numbers have lessened in the past month, notably after the winter storm.

Adjustment to Quarantine Timeline:

One notable change that will go into effect immediately is a reduction in the length of the quarantine period for close contacts who do not have COVID symptoms. On March 5, the Hays County Health Department updated its recommendation for quarantine periods of close contacts to match CDC’s amended quarantine timeline allowing for a shorter close-contact quarantine period, and the district will follow this recommendation.

This shortened timeline falls within the CDC guidelines and is also permissible per TEA Public Health Guidance. The isolation period may end for individuals who were identified as close contacts to a positive COVID-19 case but are not experiencing symptoms:
· On Day 10 after close contact without testing; or
· On Day 7 after close contact exposure and after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on Day 5 or later)

If the individuals return to school from these shorter isolation periods, they should regularly monitor themselves for symptoms to ensure they remain symptom-free and take appropriate precautions for the duration of the 14-day incubation period.

DSISD is implementing the above close-contact quarantine timeline beginning tomorrow, March 8, 2021, and we are in the process of updating our district protocols accordingly.

Public School Staff in Texas Now Qualify for the Vaccine

This week we received the very welcome news that education employees are now eligible to receive vaccinations. We expect this will provide more opportunities for staff vaccinations and we are working with health agencies to facilitate opportunities for our employees, based on the available vaccine supply.

Moving Forward

Our district will continue to watch for additional guidance from local, state and federal health authorities in the coming weeks and months. If additional adjustments to our DSISD staff and student protocols become necessary, we will continue to keep our DSISD community informed.

Please know that the health and safety of our students, staff, and community is our paramount concern and forms the basis for our decisions as the pandemic progresses and as updated guidance from collective health authorities becomes available.

Thank you for partnering with us to keep our students and staff safe during this unique school year.