With the expanse of COVID-19 around the United States, local entities have taken precautionary measures to assess the impact on the area.
Earl Jarrett, Interim Superintendent of Breckenridge ISD sent out a letter on March 13 to BISD staff, families, and the community informing them BISD was closed for students and staff on Monday, March 16. Campus and district administration, directors, and central office employees were expected to report to work.
The letter stated, “Monday will be utilized by the administration to screen faculty and staff members prior to returning to work, provide time for parents to self-report cases of exposure, and plan for the continued education of students if school must be closed in the future. If a student or staff member has been in contacted with someone infected with COVID-19 or visited an area where the virus is prevalent (i.e. Italy, Japan, the State of Washington, or a cruise ship), we are asking you to report this information to the school and comply with the 14 day quarantine as is recommended by federal and state health officials.”
In a letter from the interim superintendent sent Monday afternoon, the decision was made to extend students’ spring break until Friday, March 20.
The release also provided information regarding meals for students, stating “breakfast and lunch will be served to all students beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Each campus cafeteria will be providing meals on a pick-up basis. Please check the COVID-19 section of the District website for times and pick-up locations.”
All staff will report to their campuses or supervisors from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting Tuesday, March 17 through the remainder of the week.
For future communications regarding the COVID-19 emergency, visit the Breckenridge ISD website at www.breckenridgeisd.org.
The letter asks for those needing questions answered to allow a reasonable response time for answers.
The Ranger College administrative team has also taken measures and is working under the guidance of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the United States Department of Education, the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), and in conjunction with other Texas community colleges.
Dr. William J. Campion, President of the Ranger College, wrote in a letter to the “Ranger Community,” “In light of recent developments, we have decided to transition face-to-face classes to online classes. Additionally, we are monitoring all communication and recommendations from the CDC, State, and local officials.
While we are not aware of a positive case of the COVID-19 virus in our immediate area at this time, we recognize that the eventual spread of the virus to this region is possible. We remain diligent as the health, safety, and wellbeing of our Ranger College students, staff, and faculty continues to be our highest priority and concern.”
“In order to finalize our plans and implement effectively, we are suspending all classes, including the Child Development Center, until Wednesday, March 18. (…) On Wednesday, March 18, students need to log in to Blackboard for further directions from instructors. With any difficulty accessing Blackboard, please email for assistance at IThelpdesk@rangercollege.edu. Computer labs and sanitizer will be available at all Ranger College sites for students who do not have access to a computer or Internet. The dorms and dining hall on the Ranger home campus will be open for students who prefer to remain on campus. For students enrolled in a workforce program, additional information will be sent to you by 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17. All Ranger College activities and events remain canceled until further notice. As the situation changes, we will continue to notify you promptly.”
Kristina Campos-Davis, Ph.D. Exec. Director of Communications of Texas State Technical College sent a media release March 13. “In response to the COVID-19 situation, TSTC is extending spring break through March 29 for all TSTC campuses. Online learning classes will continue as originally scheduled. The College will use this period to prepare for alternative methods of delivery so students can continue the semester. At this time it is expected that face-to-face classes will resume on March 30. However, this plan will be reassessed and, if needed, adjusted should conditions require. The health and safety of our students and employees has been and will remain our first priority as the college responds to this evolving situation.”
As of the time of this article, the state of Texas currently has 57 cases of COVID-19, according to DSHS.
Current counties in Texas with reported cases, and the number of cases in each, are: Bell, 1; Bexar, 3; Brazoria, 2; Collin, 6; Dallas, 8; El Paso, 1; Fort Bend, 9; Galveston, 1; Gregg, 1; Harris, 10; Hays, 1; Lavaca, 1; Matagorda, 1; Montgomery, 3; Smith, 4; Tarrant, 3; and Travis, 2.
County Judge, Michael Roach reported, as of Sunday, March 15, there are currently no cases of COVID-19 in Stephens County at this time. “We continue to correspond with Texas State Health Service. (…) Testing protocol is in place at local clinics and hospital for testing.”
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, patients with COVID‑19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms can include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath and signs of the virus may show up 2‑14 days after exposure.
“We’re still trying to get the message out about the active social distancing methods and following the proper protocol such as keep hands sanitized, not touching your face and washing your hands thoroughly,” Clint Taylor, the Regional Preparedness Coordinator of the Texas Department of State Health Services said.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in monitoring COVID-19 and providing a test for individuals who believe they may be infected.
“We’ve had an increase in test performances and it’s only if a doctor deems it necessary for individuals who believe they may have the virus,” Taylor said. “If an individual believes they are infected, the first protocol is to make a call to their doctor, rather than going right into the doctor’s office. Based on the information, a doctor can authorize an approval to go get tested. We’re very aggressive about keeping the information updated on our website and we want to prevent people from listening to rumors, and unverified news on social media.”
Any individual needing information on updated news about COVID-19 is encouraged to visit the Texas Department of State Health Services at dshs.texas.gov or via email @ email@example.com.