The decision to keep schools open is based on a relatively low level of positive cases within district ZIP codes, she added.
“It continues to be accurate that RISD’s portion of Dallas County predominately does not have the level of COVID activity as some areas of the county,” she said.
A few days before the district returned to in-person instruction, Dallas County’s risk level decreased from red to orange, which stands for extreme caution, Stone said. However, the recent rise in countywide cases has caused the public health committee to unanimously recommend a return to the red zone, which stands for stay home, stay safe.
“We’ve been seeing a decline since July 4, but now the numbers are concerning and on the rise,” Stone said.
Over the past three weeks, Dallas County has seen a 44% increase in hospitalization admissions related to COVID-19, County Judge Clay Jenkins said during an Oct. 16 news conference. New daily cases have increased by 94% since the county hit a low point in August, he added.
“What is most concerning for us here in Dallas County is that there is a 30% increase in [intensive care unit] bed utilization, which is disproportionate to the hospitalization rate and may indicate that we are underestimating the impact,” Jenkins said.
On Oct. 15, the county announced 589 additional positive cases of the virus, bringing the cumulative total since reporting began in March to 88,372. Of those cases, 1,059 patients have died, according to the county.
Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County’s Health and Human Services Department, was careful to point out during the news conference that the return to red does not indicate a total shutdown. Rather, the county is advising residents to do what they know works, which includes avoiding public gatherings, wearing masks and washing hands, Huang and Jenkins said.
“We all feel the weight of COVID fatigue, but our fight is not over,” Jenkins said.
RISD will continue to enforce safety procedures to keep schools open, Stone said. Wearing masks, she added, is of the utmost importance.
“I have used the words ask, compel, implore, beg, and I will continue to use them over and over again,” she said. “Please wear a mask.”
There are 35 students and 10 employees with active coronavirus cases in the district. Since Aug. 19, there have been 161 employees and 52 students with confirmed positive cases.
Cases in the district can be found on the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. Information on Dallas County cases can be found here.