Conroe ISD moves to COVID-19 safety alert Level 4

 Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null held a live virtual update on Jan. 13. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null held a live virtual update on Jan. 13. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null held a live virtual update on Jan. 13. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null said the district has entered COVID-19 safety alert Level 4 during a live video update Jan. 13.

The safety alert Level 4 response and mitigation includes limited large gatherings, postponed activities, enhanced cleaning protocols, limited outside guests and availability to personal protective equipment. Null said all CISD schools are equipped with integrated viral protection air cleaning systems in cafeterias. In addition, smaller air cleaning units are located throughout the schools.

CISD was previously at alert Level 3, which indicates a lower level of danger to students and staff.

“We are as fragile today as we have been through this entire process with our ability to keep our schools open,” Null said during the virtual update.

Null said the number of isolated students is not as high when compared to the isolation numbers in August. However, employee isolations have increased. More employees were isolated on Jan. 13 than any other day in the 2021-22 school year. According to the CISD COVID-19 dashboard, 373 employees were in isolation on Jan.13.



“This spike is significant, but it is not to the same level as the spike that was at the beginning of the school year for our students,” Null said. “ ... This spike is really centered on our employees. That’s where we are feeling the most pain in this situation.”

Substitute shortage

Null said district or school closures would be triggered by staff availability. On Jan. 13, there was a 62% substitute teacher fill rate, with 235 unfilled positions. To alleviate staff shortages, Null said qualified employees in the CISD office will be helping substitute in classrooms.

“Tomorrow, we have over 900 employees who have already input their absences into our system. Over 750 of those employees need substitute teachers. We will not have 750 substitute teachers tomorrow,” Null said.

The CISD board of trustees unanimously voted to increase substitute teacher pay by $10 a day during a Nov. 16 regular meeting. The new pay rate went into effect Jan. 2. By increasing the substitute daily pay rate, the district will be able to provide needed coverage when teachers are absent, district officials previously said.

“We push and fight hard everyday to make sure we can stay open,” Null said. “It’s not a promise I can make tonight, but I can promise you that we will do all that we can, and at the same time, we will not be irresponsible with that decision. If we reach a point where it is unsafe for us to open our schools, then we will make that decision to close and [we will] understand the consequences that come with that.”

District guidance for COVID-19 protocols can be found at www.conroeisd.net/roadmap-to-reopening.

By Ally Bolender

Reporter, The Woodlands

Ally joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Texas State University. Ally covers education, local government, transportation, business, and real estate development in The Woodlands. Prior to CI, Ally served as news content manager of KTSW FM-89.9 in San Marcos, Texas.