Houston ISD adjusts contact tracing practices, will revisit mask mandate in 'near future' if coronavirus declines continue

With COVID-19 cases trending downward in Houston, officials with Houston ISD announced changes to their contact tracing protocols in a Feb. 9 press release. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
With COVID-19 cases trending downward in Houston, officials with Houston ISD announced changes to their contact tracing protocols in a Feb. 9 press release. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

With COVID-19 cases trending downward in Houston, officials with Houston ISD announced changes to their contact tracing protocols in a Feb. 9 press release. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

With COVID-19 cases trending downward in Houston, officials with Houston ISD announced changes to the district's contact tracing protocols in a Feb. 9 press release.

HISD conducts contact tracing whenever an individual is confirmed positive for COVID-19, a process headed by each school's nurse or principal. The nurse identifies close contacts as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes people who were less than 6 feet from the confirmed case for a total of 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period that starts from two days prior to the test being administered. Parents of close contacts are then notified.

Previously, exposed individuals were instructed to quarantine for at least five days from the last day of exposure to the confirmed case with stricter rules for those who test positive or show symptoms.


Moving forward, everyone in a classroom or involved in an activity or program where a case has been confirmed or is presumed will still be notified. Those people will then be advised to monitor for symptoms and test when applicable, according to the district. In its back-to-school plan, HISD strongly recommends immediate testing for anyone who feels sick, and those with positive results are required to isolate for at least five days from the onset of symptoms.

"The threat of COVID-19 in our communities is still high, but we see that countywide data is trending in the right direction, including a steady decrease in new cases reported, which is consistent with trends observed in other places," the district said in a statement.


Parents will continue to receive notifications whenever a child is in a class with a COVID-19-positive individual.
As of Feb. 9, the district's mask mandate will also remain in place, though officials said it may be revisited in the "near future" if current declines in COVID-19 cases continue and no new variant emerges. HISD will also continue its testing offerings and its partnership with local health departments to offer vaccines.

HISD has a total of 1,228 active cases as of Feb. 9, according to the district's COVID-19 dashboard, including 1,057 student cases and 171 staff cases. A total of 66 new cases were confirmed Feb. 9, down from January numbers, when cases hovered around 200-400 per day for most of the month and topped 500 daily new cases on three occasions.