The Clear Creek ISD community must remain diligent about public health and safety measures over the holiday break to protect in-person education in 2021, Superintendent Greg Smith said Dec. 14.
Between Dec. 2 and Dec. 4—six to eight days after Thanksgiving—CCISD’s number of active COVID-19 cases jumped from 60 to 96, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. By the last week before the holiday break, the district reported record-high case counts; there were 160 active cases by Dec. 17, the Thursday before school let out.
Smith attributed this spread to community and off-campus social events, based on campus-level coronavirus case counts, and encouraged those in the community to consider getting tested for COVID-19 three to five days after a holiday trip.
“School will resume in January 2021, but we need everyone's help. This is pretty serious,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, we didn't do well during the Thanksgiving break... I’m asking you to please, please, please... be very careful so that when we return, everybody will be safe.”
Despite the concern over community spread, Smith said at the meeting the district will be revising its safety protocols to shorten the 14-day quarantine period required of students and staff. Friendswood ISD is considering adopting a similar measure with quarantine reduction.
Once in close contact with a COVID-19-positive person, CCISD teachers and students are required to isolate and move to a school-to-home learning model for the duration of the quarantine period. Guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allows for a reduction in quarantine length from the 14-day standard “based on local circumstances and resources,” including access to testing.
Smith said Dec. 14 that, for any student in an extracurricular activity, the quarantine period will remain at 14 days in an effort to exercise maximum caution and keep the activities running without widespread illness-related cancellations.
The board also approved an academic calendar for the 2021-22 school year at the Dec. 14 meeting. School will start Aug. 17 and end May 26.
Some calendar considerations included aligning district schedules with the schedules of local colleges for the CCISD students taking credits on those campuses, as well as observing various religious, federal and local holidays. Other factors include the AP testing schedule and final exam schedule for 2022, and the use of professional learning time, district leaders said.
Several draft versions of the calendar were available for feedback online from Nov. 3 to Nov. 20, and about 5,700 people voted on the drafts during that time.
Although Aug. 17 is considered the year’s start date, administrators said the district may implement a staggered start as it did for 2020-21. This would happen over the course of just two days, with pre-K, kindergarten, sixth and ninth grade students returning a day early on Aug. 16. No formal staggered start date plans were presented or approved Dec. 14.