The board of trustees voted to amend the district’s COVID-19 protocols at a special May 6 meeting, following recommendations by district staff. The board had previously made several changes— including making masks optional outdoors—to the district’s spring guide on March 29.
“Our plan is to return to normal next August to start the 2021-2022 school year,” Superintendent Robin Ryan said. “Careful monitoring of our adjusted protocols this summer will provide us with the data to solidify those plans.”
Ryan said that lifting COVID-19 protocols for the summer will let district administration keep an eye on COVID-19 metrics while there are smaller groups of students and staff on campus.
“If we are ever going to test the water, the summer school program would be the time to do that,” GCISD Director of Health Services Amy Taldo said. “If we do see major increases ... we can say ‘Well, hey, let’s stop, let's rethink, let's look at this,’ because again, safety of children and staff is, of course, the ultimate goal.”
At the previous regular board meeting April 26, Taldo told the board that the cornerstones of the district’s approach to handling COVID-19 are “watch your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands.” With more students on campus making social distancing more difficult, she said that the other two cornerstones are even more important.
“We need to lean on our other cornerstones until we’ve got some other mitigation efforts in place,” she said. “Vaccines for younger children, an antiviral, all these things are in the works. They’re just not quite there yet.”
A presentation given by Taldo April 26 showed that fewer than 2,000 COVID-19 cases had been reported per week in March and April in Tarrant County. The number of cases reported for the week of April 17 was 1,138. That compares with 19,722 cases in the county during the first week of January, according to the presentation.
The number of GCISD staff members who have received the vaccine also increased, with 29% of staff fully vaccinated as of April 26.
GCISD will also hold a Pfizer vaccine clinic May 13 that will be open to anyone 16 years old and older, Taldo said, including students, teachers and their families. A follow-up clinic for the second dose will be held June 3. Further details will be shared soon.
“We really want it to be a community thing and try to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” she said.