Richardson ISD superintendent says heightened COVID-19 risk level will not shut down schools

Superintendent Jeannie Stone announced via video Oct. 14 that district schools will remain open despite a recent rise in cases of the coronavirus in Dallas County. (Courtesy YouTube)
Superintendent Jeannie Stone announced via video Oct. 14 that district schools will remain open despite a recent rise in cases of the coronavirus in Dallas County. (Courtesy YouTube)

Superintendent Jeannie Stone announced via video Oct. 14 that district schools will remain open despite a recent rise in cases of the coronavirus in Dallas County. (Courtesy YouTube)

Richardson ISD will keep schools open despite a recent move by Dallas County to elevate its COVID-19 transmission risk level, Superintendent Jeannie Stone said in an Oct. 14 video.

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.
By Makenzie Plusnick
Makenzie graduated from Tarleton State University in 2019 with a degree in communications. While in school, she interned at the Weatherford Democrat and was editor of Texan News Service, a news outlet at Tarleton. She enjoys true crime podcasts, riding horses, and spending time with her dog.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


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