Somerville ISD among local school districts engaging in virtual learning only through Thanksgiving holiday

Madisonville CISD began the same plan Monday.
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 10:51 PM CST
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SOMERVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - The Somerville Independent School District shut down its campuses for in-person learning Monday and will engage in virtual learning only until November 30 due to a recent uptick in positive COVID-19 cases.

Somerville ISD Superintendent Karla Sparks says keeping students and staff at home is the best way to ensure their safety and help stop the spread of the virus for the final week of instruction before the district takes all of the following week off for the Thanksgiving holiday. All extracurricular activities have been canceled through the end of the month as well.

“We felt it was imperative to shut down our building to control the spread of COVID,” Sparks said. “We are going to thoroughly clean and disinfect our building. By shutting them down, it also helps kill the virus.”

Before this week, Sparks says four students had tested positive since the beginning of the school year, while two staff members tested positive toward the end of October and the beginning of November. She says a number of staff members felt sick this past week, so the district had subs come in to teach for them.

“We had three staff members just this past week test positive and two more students over the weekend,” Sparks said. “It was the best decision to close since that brings us to six active cases as of right now.”

The district has 41 people in quarantine after following all contact tracing protocols. Sparks says staff will also be denied access to the building during the two-week closure.

“We want to make sure that anything that’s left as far as germs go will die off," Sparks said.

Sparks says Somerville ISD disinfects their spaces weekly but believed it was imperative to switch over to a remote learning only model for a period of time after the uptick of positive cases.

Regarding reopening, Sparks says they will closely monitor the situation. She says the school nurse does a great job keeping in contact with everyone who has been potentially exposed to the virus.

“It is important for kids to receive face-to-face instruction,” Sparks said. “Remote instruction is not the most ideal of circumstances for our kids, so we’re really hoping to open everything back up November 30.”

Madisonville Consolidated Independent School District also began a virtually learning only period Monday that will last through the end of the week. Combined with next week’s Thanksgiving break, all four campuses in the Madisonville school district will also be closed until November 30.

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