Clear Creek ISD officials, UTMB chief medical officer discuss district’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts

UTMB Chief Medical Officer Gulshan Sharma—who is also a Clear Creek ISD parent—joined several district leaders in an Oct. 27 livestream event concerning COVID-19. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
UTMB Chief Medical Officer Gulshan Sharma—who is also a Clear Creek ISD parent—joined several district leaders in an Oct. 27 livestream event concerning COVID-19. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

UTMB Chief Medical Officer Gulshan Sharma—who is also a Clear Creek ISD parent—joined several district leaders in an Oct. 27 livestream event concerning COVID-19. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

Heading into the Halloween weekend, Clear Creek ISD is working to curtail COVID-19 case clusters at an elementary campus and a secondary campus.

The uptick in cases comes on the heels of several school spirit events and large non-school gatherings, Superintendent Greg Smith said, which could be potentially responsible for the infections.

Smith was joined by Holly Hughes, CCISD assistant superintendent of elementary education Holly Hughes; Marina Keeton, lead nurse and coordinator of health services; and Gulshan Sharma, chief medical officer for the University of Texas Medical Branch, who is also a CCISD parent, on Oct. 27 for a COVID-19 update via livestream.

During the livestream, Smith pointed to homecoming festivities and off-campus social gatherings as likely coronavirus spreader events. CCISD’s high schools held homecoming events in mid-October.

Although the district modified its football schedule to allow for proper social distancing, games have been postponed this fall as players have reported positive COVID-19 test results. An Oct. 30 matchup between Clear Falls and Clear Lake high schools is being rescheduled for early December due to two positive COVID-19 cases and additional players in self-quarantine on the Clear Falls varsity team, per an Oct. 30 media release.


“It’s not worth participating in [a] game if you’re feeling sick,” Smith said during the livestream, encouraging players to put the health of the community over their own desires to play. “Stay home, because you could infect an entire team.”

As of midday Oct. 30, a total of 47 COVID-19 cases are considered active in CCISD, the highest number to date during the 2020-21 school year.

Of those, 12 cases are at Clear Brook High School, seven are at Clear Springs High Schools and 10 cases are at Ferguson Elementary; no other campuses have more than five active cases listed. Of the total cases, 12 are among staff, and the remaining 35 are among students.

The active cases dashboard is updated daily at 4 p.m., and any new cases reported after that time are added at 8 a.m. the following day. Based on community feedback, the district will begin reporting cumulative case counts by week, CCISD Chief Communications Officer Elaina Polsen said during the Oct. 27 livestream.

Active cases among Clear Connections students are monitored and put into a tracking app, but they do not appear on the dashboard unless the student is coming to campus for after-school activities, district officials said.

The process of identifying and responding to cases is not linear, Hughes said during the livestream. For example, a third-grade classroom at Ferguson Elementary moved to the district’s School-to-Home model as cases began presenting, but the cases did not present all at once: The class in question involved team teaching, so those in the other part of the team-taught classroom did not begin reporting positive cases until a little later, Hughes said.

“We have responded to that as quickly as possible,” she said. “We’re realizing all too well the importance of masking and distancing at all times and being very aware of symptoms at home and symptoms within the classroom. ... I know that it can always be seen that we could have acted faster, but we do feel like the swift actions that we’ve taken [have] reduced the spread within the campus.”

As noted in several of the district’s COVID-19 response protocols, closures happen once the number of suspected or confirmed cases in an area reaches or exceeds 10%. Smith said this 10% threshold is one factor in the equation when it comes to closures, along with guidance from Sharma and from the newly formed CCISD Medical Advisory Group.

“I think the success here is all based on everybody actually stepping up and taking responsibility,” Sharma said during the webinar as he commended the district’s response to date. “I have said so many times: This virus is going to be with us. It's looking for a friendly environment. ... As long as we are masking and limiting the gathering of large groups of individuals, I think we are going to be fine.”

Click here to watch the full 49-minute livestream, which includes more insights from Sharma about masking for students of all ages as well as tips for hosting safe Thanksgiving holiday gatherings.
By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.

<

MOST RECENT

Spearheaded by state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, the new court, if established, would expand the capacity of the county's criminal court system in hopes of reducing its backlog, which stood at 70,951 total cases pending before criminal district courts in Harris County as of April 8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County supports creation of new criminal district court to tackle case backlog

If the efforts are successful, this would be Harris County's first new criminal district court since 1984 when the 351st District Court was created.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

(Courtesy Montaya Magee)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: H-E-B coming to Clear Lake and more

Here is a roundup of recent business news in Clear Lake and League City.

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

With little discussion April 5, Friendswood City Council voted in favor of a resolution to show support for House Bill 3029, the passage of which would result in the creation of a taxing entity to help fund the operation of the proposed coastal barrier. (Community Impact staff)
Friendswood joins League City in supporting creation of Gulf Coast Protection District

With little discussion April 5, Friendswood City Council voted in favor of a resolution to show support for House Bill 3029, the passage of which would result in the creation of a taxing entity to help fund the operation of the proposed coastal barrier.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
DMV officials say no grace period following waiver of car title, registration; new housing set for Magnolia, Cypress

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

After serving up chicken in College Station for nearly three decades, Layne’s Chicken Fingers is opening its first location in the Houston area in Katy. (Courtesy Layne's Chicken Fingers)
Layne's Chicken Fingers coming to Katy; Gyro King opens in Sugar Land and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Less than 25% of American office workers have returned to in-person office settings since the start of the pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
DATA: Texas metros lead the nation in return to in-person work since start of pandemic

About 37% of Houston office employees had returned to in-person work as of the end of March, as compared to an average of less than 25% in other major U.S. metros.

In order to move to Level 2 on the threat level system, Hidalgo said the county would need to get down to an average of 400 new COVID-19 cases reported daily, a positivity rate of 5% and an ICU population of 15%. (Screenshot via Facebook Live)
'We're close' Hidalgo says of possibility for Harris County to lower COVID-19 threat level

In order to move to Level 2 on the threat level system, Hidalgo said the county would need to get down to an average of 400 new COVID-19 cases reported daily, a positivity rate of 5% and an ICU population of 15%.

Clear Creek ISD candidates spoke during a forum April 6 before the May election. (Courtesy i45now)
Clear Creek ISD candidates weigh in on issues before election

Clear Creek ISD candidates spoke during a forum April 6 before the May election.

contstruction worker
Federal judge approves Houston’s $2 billion answer to Clean Water Act lawsuit

A lawsuit alleging that persistent sewage overflows in Houston violate the Clean Water Act has resulted in a 15-year, $2 billion infrastructure overhaul plan approved by a federal judge April 2.