Important COVID-19 (Coronavirus) District Notices
March 3, 2021 Email: COVID Update Masks Remain & School Employees Eligible for VaccinePosted by Tim Savoy on 3/3/2021
Dear Hays CISD Family,
We have a couple of important pieces of information to share regarding COVID and schools:
We received information from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) a day earlier than expected. TEA has kept the mask requirement in place for schools. (See page 7 of the agency’s updated Public Health Planning Guide for Schools). Nothing in the updated TEA guidance changes anything that is currently happening in Hays CISD schools regarding COVID safety protocols. So, we will keep doing what we have been doing. The district; in concert with local, state, and federal health authorities; maintains its belief that masks are an essential tool in helping to keep the virus in check.
The Texas Department of State Health Services announced today that all teachers and school support staff are now eligible for vaccines.
Hays CISD is grateful for the inclusion of school district personnel as a group eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. These heroes for children include teachers, bus drivers, child nutrition employees, custodians, school nurses, and many others who have been working around the clock to keep schools running during the pandemic. It has been a challenging year for school district staff, families, parents, and students; but, together, the Hays CISD community and greater school district family have been taking care of each other. For that, we are stronger.
March 2, 2021 Email: Masks & Hays CISDPosted by Tim Savoy on 3/2/2021
Dear Hays CISD Family,
Many of you are likely aware of today’s announcement by Governor Greg Abbott that he is lifting the statewide mask mandate next week on March 10, 2021. We also received notice today that the commissioner of education will, on Thursday afternoon, provide superintendents across the state with specific information about the governor’s order and whether it will impact schools.
We will update you with any changes in requirements and the district’s plan moving forward following receipt of the information from the Texas Education Agency and the commissioner’s announcement.
In the meantime, all current COVID safety protocols in Hays CISD, including the requirement to wear masks, remain in effect.
This district believes masks have been essential in keeping us safe and many in our community, including teachers and staff, have not yet been deemed eligible by the state to get a vaccine. For others who are eligible, vaccines have been in short supply.
Hays CISD Communication Director
January 28, 2021 Email: End of Semester COVID UpdatePosted by Tim Savoy on 1/28/2021
Dear Hays CISD Family,
This week, as we close out the first semester of this school year, I want you to know that your work, sacrifices, and efforts are not unnoticed. This has been the most difficult semester in our lifetimes. The pandemic has affected us all, both collectively, and in very personal and different individual ways. At the outset, we asked each other to provide grace and understanding as we navigated the rapidly changing information and protocols, and our own hopes and fears. Thank you for that continued determination to take care of each other, even as we grow wearier of this horrible pandemic.
There is good news – a vaccine exists and its distribution will get better. Even though there is light at the end of the tunnel, we may not be able to see it just yet. Last week’s COVID numbers for the district were our highest reported in a single week. And, through the course of this pandemic, we sadly continue to lose employees, parents of our students, grandparents, and beloved community members.
We are a family of more than 3,000 employees, 20,000 students, 40,000 parents, 10,000 volunteers, and by extension, many more than that. Each time we lose a loved-one, our Hays CISD family grieves. To my knowledge, we have not yet lost a student to COVID, and I thank God for that. But, we have lost others.
Upon learning of an employee death, I must respect the wishes of that employee’s family. Out of privacy requirements placed on us, and in deference to family members’ needs, we do not make automatic, districtwide announcements related to medical deaths. We do support each family in any way we can, as well as comfort the affected departments or campuses. People grieve differently. Some, especially given the politics and perceptions about COVID, want no information released at all. Others, appreciate tributes in social media and on the news. We follow the lead of the family and grieve equally for each and every person, no matter how the family chooses to memorialize them.
As required, medical privacy is our starting point regarding COVID, but safety is paramount. In no case will we ever keep important information confidential that is needed to keep anyone out of harm’s way. I have confidence that, despite what the most recent COVID positive numbers may indicate at first glance, our facilities are as safe as possible and likely safer than many other places in the community. We do see the largest increases in our numbers a few weeks after schools have been closed – following Thanksgiving break and Christmas break, for example. My fear is that closing a campus may actually be counter-productive to helping to reduce numbers of positive cases, because of the prevalent community spread we know exists. On our campuses, though not perfectly, we can better enforce mask-wearing, sanitizing, and other protective protocols.
I care very deeply for the health and success of our entire school district family and community. I know the challenges, the traumas, the fears, and the anxiety we are facing. It is, at times, daunting. I also know the resilience, compassion, love, and abilities we all share. Together, as a family, we will prevail. As we start the second half of this school year, I remain optimistic that better days are ahead and that we will see them soon. Take care of yourselves, your families, and stay safe.
January 4, 2021 Email: Hays CISD to Continue Breakfast & Lunch at No Cost to All StudentsPosted by Tim Savoy on 1/4/2021
Dear Hays CISD Family,
We are happy to announce that Hays CISD will be able to continue to offer breakfast and lunch to all students, districtwide, at no cost to the students. This program, funded by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) block grant, was set to expire at the end of 2020, but has been extended to cover the remainder of the school year.
Important: Even though meals are being offered to all students at no cost, we still need your help by filling out the free and reduced meal application (https://www.hayscisd.net/Page/311). The district and individual campuses receive federal funding for critical programs and staffing based on the percentage of students who would ordinarily qualify for free and reduced meals. A reduction in the number of students who are recorded as qualifying for free or reduced-price meals could result in a reduction of federal funding. If you have not already filled out your application for this year, please do so at the link in this email.
Chief Communication Officer
December 18, 2020 Email: A Holiday Message & COVID 19 UpdatePosted by Tim Savoy on 12/18/2020
Dear Hays CISD Family,
I couldn’t be happier to send you this email, because I get to wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season; and I get to bid farewell to 2020! As we take the next two weeks off to rest, reflect, celebrate, and cherish; please know that I appreciate and value each of you – students, teachers, parents, staff, and community members. Together, we have risen to meet every challenge placed before us this year. If you lost a friend or loved-one to COVID-19, you have had to endure the greatest sacrifice from the pandemic and I will be thinking of you this holiday season. The vaccine is now here and the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned on, but we still have some distance yet to travel. (Please see the important COVID-19 information at the end of this message.)
Next year promises to be better – continued district growth and a potential bond election in May, the work of the district’s new Diversity Advisory Council, a promising 87th Texas legislative session to build on the tremendous investment our state lawmakers made to public education last session (see our legislative priorities), and helping our students eliminate any potential learning gaps they may have experienced because of the pandemic. I’m very optimistic about 2021.
Our district encompasses hundreds of square miles and tens of thousands of people, but don’t let that affect our ability to stay neighbors and neighborly. I am always just an email, mouse click, or phone call away. I genuinely mean it when I say we are stronger together. With our current size and our continued growth, we are unstoppable in our ability to make great things happen for our students and children.
Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season.
View the special holiday edition of the 'Wright This Minute' weekly video:
IMPORTANT COVID-19 INFORMATION
Please try to adhere to health department guidelines while on break and limit your gatherings to the recommended numbers. If you can’t, please consider keeping students at home for virtual learning the first two weeks after break is over. We will work with you.
Continue to wear masks, wash hands, and self-screen. Don’t come to work or school if you or someone in your household are symptomatic and have a COVID test pending.
We are strongly urging teachers and any staff member who will be on a campus to wear both a mask and a face shield for the first two weeks upon our return from break. The use of a face shield, in addition to a medical-grade face mask, improves protection for the wearer and may eliminate the need for quarantine.
Starting January 4, 2021, we will use the new quarantine flexibilities established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), allowing quarantines to be 7, 10, or 14 days, depending on individual case circumstances.
While our general COVID case-count dashboard will not be updated until after the break, we will continue to provide immediate notice to anyone affected when a positive case is identified on a campus or at an office building.
We will return to school as scheduled in January unless you hear from us otherwise. We don’t anticipate a change in our schedule at this time.
Our Board of Trustees has adopted a resolution advocating that teachers and public school employees be designated as essential frontline workers and given appropriate vaccine priority.
Note: Information can change quickly based on the health and safety needs of our school district and community family. Information posted here is the most current.
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