Hello Bearcat Parents and Guardians.
The 2020-2021 school year is off to a tremendous start. I want to thank you, the students, and school staff for helping us get off to this great start. As we continue to navigate our way through the challenges of COVID-19, I wanted to make sure you are aware of how we will be responding to the different types of illnesses that we usually see during the school year. We have already started to see students with seasonal allergies, strep throat, as well as other common illnesses. Along with these common illnesses, we have had a student test positive for COVID-19 along with having students needing to quarantine. We have contacted all of the students’ parents who have been involved in these instances.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are as follows: feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit, loss of taste or smell, cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, chills, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, shaking or exaggerated shivering, significant muscle pain or ache, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. As you can see, these COVID symptoms are also symptoms of other illnesses as well. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that we are currently combatting, we have been instructed by State health officials to treat these as COVID symptoms first. We encourage you to do the same.
If your student experiences more than one of these symptoms, you will be notified by school officials to come and pick up your student. Per the Texas Education Agency, the following is the guidance for COVID situations at school.
Individuals Confirmed or Suspected with COVID-19
- Any individuals who themselves either:
(a) are test-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed above), must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until the school system screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for campus re-entry have been met:
- In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when all three of the following criteria are met:
- at least one day (24 hours) has passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);
- the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath);
- at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
- In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.
- If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay at home period, the individual must either
- Obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or
- Obtain an acute infection test (at a physician’s office, approved testing location, or other site) that comes back negative for COVID-19.
Identifying Possible COVID-19 Cases on Campus
*Required Actions if Individuals with Test-confirmed Cases Have Been in a School
- If an individual who has been in school is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must notify its local health department, in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Schools must close off areas that are heavily used by the individual with the test-confirmed case (student, teacher, or staff) until the non-porous surfaces in those areas can be disinfected, unless more than 7 days have already passed since that person was on campus.
- Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a test-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate on any on campus activities.
- Upon receipt of information that any teacher, staff member, student, or visitor at a school, including an individual working or learning remotely, is test-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must submit a report to the Texas Department of State Health Services via an online form. The report must be submitted each Monday for the prior seven days (Monday-Sunday).
***If anyone in your household is awaiting test results, please assume the test is positive and quarantine your family until you have results. We realize that could be days, but if you send your child to school, you could be infecting others.
***Please do not send your child to school if they are having any of the above symptoms. It is critical that you communicate with us if your child is not feeling well so that we know how to best protect all of our students and staff members.
***More information on the Ballinger ISD COIVD-19 plan can be found at www.ballingerisd.net. Please look at the information bar at the top of the home page under COVID-19.