The Pleasant Grove Independent School District confirmed five staff members tested positive for COVID-19, while nine are considered at high risk of exposure to the virus, less than a week before they plan to return to school on Monday morning.
Thursday afternoon, the following statement was sent to the Texarkana Gazette by the district:
"The safety and security of our students and staff is our top priority at Pleasant Grove ISD. At this time, Pleasant Grove ISD has been notified that five staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 and nine staff members are considered at a high risk of exposure to COVID-19. All of these individuals have self-quarantined. In addition, Pleasant Grove ISD has personally communicated with individuals who we believe have been affected by COVID-19 due to their on-campus activities. We are following the district's State of Mind Return to School protocol written with guidance from the Texas Education Agency's Public Health Planning Guidance. In every COVID-19 situation, Pleasant Grove ISD has coordinated its response with guidance from our local health authority and/or our director of emergency management and we will continue this practice. This practice ensures there is not one individual making a decision in regards to potential exposure, but a team of trained professionals working together making decisions to protect everyone involved."
The names of the infected staff members were not released.
PGISD Superintendent Chad Pirtle posted a letter on the district's website addressing the situation.
"I want to be transparent in sharing that we will have cases of COVID-19 throughout this school year on our campuses," Pirtle stated in the letter. "Within our staff, we currently have five confirmed COVID-19 cases and nine individuals who are considered at a moderate to high risk of exposure. These individuals are all self-quarantined and will not return until they meet the return to school protocol."
Pirtle outlined the guidelines for what the district's response will be to these cases, as well as what the protocol will be if there are any future cases, with information from the district's State of Mind Return to School packet.
Protocol in response to a confirmed case:
— All teachers, staff, and families of all students in that school will be notified.
— The local health department will be notified.
— Individuals who have been in close contact with the positive COVID-19 case will be contacted by the campus administration.
— All areas that are heavily used by the individual with the positive COVID-19 case will be closed off until disinfected.
— Conditions for return to school after an individual shows symptoms or gets a positive test result are:
— at least one day (24 hours) has passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications); and
— the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
— at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
— An acute infection test at an approved testing location (https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/) that comes back negative for COVID-19.
— A doctor's note indicating an alternate diagnosis.
To prevent future cases from popping up, the district has the following guidelines in place.
COVID-19 symptom screening procedures:
— All staff will be required to self-screen daily.
— All visitors will be required to screen upon arrival.
— Parents are asked to keep their student home if COVID-19 symptoms are present or if the student has been exposed. Please notify your campus of any COVID-19 symptoms, exposure or positive test results.
— All adults in the building will wear face coverings over the mouth and nose.
— All students third grade through twelfth grade will be required to wear face coverings over the mouth and nose, except when participating in activities that cannot be conducted with a face covering on, such as eating, athletics, band or unless it is not developmentally appropriate for the student to wear a face covering.
— Pre-K through second-grade students are encouraged to wear face coverings while on campus but not required.
For more information, visit the district's website at pgisd.net.
As of now, PGISD still plans on opening its doors for the 2020-21 school year Monday.
More information on this story will be released as it is gathered.