Tyler ISD is closely monitoring media reports and information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). While no cases have been suspected among our local community, we are in contact with health officials in Smith County and are following the guidance provided by the Texas Education Agency, Texas Health and Human Services and the CDC. Public health officials believe the risk to our school community is low at this time, but we understand that this is a source of concern to the community and will remain vigilant in monitoring and responding to this ever-evolving situation.
Any decisions that may need to be made regarding a change to school operations will be done so with guidance from the CDC and local health officials, along with guidance and direction from the authorities at the Texas Education Agency.
How are we screening for Coronavirus? The District is actively monitoring the health of our campuses for any signs of the illness, under the direction of the Director of Health Services. To date, there have been no cases or suspected cases of coronavirus on any of our campuses or at any of our facilities.
How and when would school closures be implemented? School closures due to illness are not novel. In fact, several schools in Texas close for some amount of time nearly every year due to excessive absenteeism as a result of flu or other illnesses. We will follow the direction of local, state, and federal health authorities should it be deemed prudent to close schools to limit the spread of infection.
Should Tyler ISD close either a campus or the entire District for health purposes, we would immediately notify the Region 7 Education Service Center. The Education Service Centers are a critical conduit for the Texas Education Agency as the Texas Department of Emergency Management and other state agencies monitor the situation.
If a school closes, the District will take appropriate mitigation measures to reduce the chances the illness would continue to spread after the campus is reopened. This includes disinfecting common spaces like the cafeteria, bathrooms, and classrooms and also disinfecting shared schools supplies, like calculators, crayons, and desks.
In the case of widespread or prolonged closures, it is likely the Texas Education Agency would waive attendance requirements and could potentially even exempt campuses from state accountability ratings, as it did when Hurricane Harvey displaced thousands of students and educators in the Houston area in 2017.
In the case of school closures, would the District provide an opportunity for virtual learning? Tyler ISD has online and other resources to ensure students have limited interruption to instructional services.
What are we currently doing to keep students, staff and the community safe? Our District’s efforts to keep our students healthy are supported by our Director of Health Services, Rachel Barber, whose work includes collaborating with campuses and working daily with campus nurses to ensure our District’s policies and procedures, which remain in line with those provided by both the Smith County Health Department as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are followed.
As health and wellness continues to be a focus in our community, we ask our parents and guardians to partner with us to best ensure the health and safety of our students and staff by continuing to monitor their child’s health and keeping them home if they have a fever, have had a fever within the last 24 hours or may have an illness that could be contagious to others. It is Tyler ISD policy that students and staff with a fever of 100 degrees or greater, or experience vomiting and/or diarrhea, must stay out of school and not participate in after-school activities until they are symptom-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication. By doing this, the exposure of illness and the possibility of it spreading to healthy students and staff are minimized.
There are also everyday steps that can be taken by us all to help minimize the spread of illness. These steps and more information can be found on the Tyler ISD Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control websites. Important actions include:
- Cover your nose and mouth with the crook of your elbow or upper arm when you cough or sneeze. This will block the spread of droplets from your mouth or nose that could contain the flu virus.
- Proper and consistent hand washing is essential. Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet if it is not automatic. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer; apply to the palm of one hand; rub hands together covering all surfaces until dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, as germs spread this way.
- Avoid sharing objects. If an activity requires the passing around of an object, be sure to wash hands afterward.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you or your child gets sick with a respiratory illness, like flu, limit contact with others as much as possible to help prevent spreading the illness. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after fever is gone, except to seek medical care. Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
Resources for additional information: