HEWITT, Texas – The Midway Independent School District is letting faculty and staff know about updates for the new school year regarding COVID-19.
Superintendent George Kazanas sent a statement to parents and staff Thursday evening saying the district has seen almost 250 COVID-19 positive cases among students and staff. In comparison, the district had a total of 748 cases in total for the last school year. The district is closely monitoring the rising numbers, and is working hard to battle the fast spread of the delta variant.
Kazanas went on to say that face masks are highly encouraged and appreciated. The issue of mask mandates is currently tied up in the courts, and McLennan County has not joined with other urban counties which have passed mask mandates in opposition to the Governor’s executive order. Kazanas will not make a decision against current law and subjects the district to lawsuits promised by Texas’ Attorney General. Even if the district moves past legal issues, the binary choice between requiring masks or not is overly simplistic in terms of a COVID solution, and has become divisive in the Midway community and in the overall battle against COVID-19.
Kazanas feels it is appropriate to directly target clusters of cases with a strong approach – such as temporarily closing a classroom or program, temporarily implementing localized mask directives, or urging asymptomatic testing of those near a cluster.
The district will continue to respond in incremental, deliberate, localized measures to address COVID-19 wherever it is found, and will escalate its responses in correlation with rising numbers. Each cluster of cases has been accompanied by extensive investigative contact tracing, personal communications with those affected, and enhanced cleaning responses such as antiviral surface sprays. The district also collaborates with the county health district and medical personnel for guidance in each cluster situation. A calculated set of responses is planned to contain and mitigate the particular situation. This way, the district is careful not to overreach to impact other students, classes and families in an unwarranted way. Those who are not affected are able to continue with school instruction and learning as unhindered as possible.
Kazanas says there is no reason – barring a massive outbreak – to move from a “school as usual” situation to closing a school in a single step. The district has not looked at any single solution, such as universal mask mandates, as a one-size-fits-all solution to solve COVID in schools.
District administrators have been closely monitoring the counts, locations, and type of spread of all COVID cases. For the community to have better insight into what kind of situational status a campus may be facing, the district is reimplementing an active case dashboard.
Kazanas said in the statement:
“With the dashboard and matrix, parents may be able to have a little more predictability of what could be coming down the pipeline. For example, you might see climbing campus percentages could cause upcoming events to be altered or canceled and masking could be directed for students and staff, or that the numbers are climbing high enough that you might want to prepare contingency plans in the event a grade level/campus/program is closed temporarily.
“I hope this correspondence, situational matrix, and dashboard provide clarity and reassurance for you that Midway ISD is actively, intensely battling COVID in our schools. In addition to the full-time jobs we had prior to the pandemic, our educators, auxiliary staff, administrators, nurses, counselors, and support staff are doing everything that we can feasibly implement in the most effective way possible.”
Kazanas says the district needs the entire Midway community to combat COVID by doing these things:
- stay home when ill
- test for any symptoms
- get vaccinated, if at all possible
- refrain from large indoor gatherings
- choose to protect yourself and others with PPE and preventative hygiene practices.
In addition, Kazanas is asking the community to implement COVID-safe practices in non-school activities and organizations.
Source: Midway Independent School District