January 28, 2021 Email: End of Semester COVID Update

Posted 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.