KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
March 5, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
In a press conference Wednesday evening, Fort Bend County officials with Health and Human Services confirmed the “first presumptive positive case of COVID-19” in the state. Today Harris County confirmed two cases. Authorities are working to keep the public safe and informed.
Potentially First Texas Case of COVID-19
A 70-year-old Fort Bend County man is in the hospital and believed to be the first Texas patient with COVID-19, commonly known as Coronavirus. The man had recently traveled abroad. Information was not released about where the man had traveled, and when, or in which part of Fort Bend County he resides.
Previously, the Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers were quarantined in San Antonio but this would be considered the first official case in Texas if the CDC confirms it. The people who were quarantined in San Antonio were released this week after CDC approved protocol.
Harris County officials confirmed today that two people (a man and a woman) tested positive for Coronavirus and those tests have been confirmed by the CDC.
These three cases are connected. It is believed that the three patients contracted Coronavirus while on a trip to Egypt. They flew back the end of February and continued their normal routines before symptoms showed up. Authorities are investigating who may have been exposed.
Waiting for CDC to Verify
The Houston Health Department tested the man and the results were positive for Coronavirus, but the case is currently considered to be “presumptive positive” until the samples are confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Atlanta.
“This presumptive case is actionable and we are treating it as a positive,” officials state. “Fort Bend County Health & Human Services has started an epidemiological investigation and is leading the effort to quickly identify close contacts with the individual. Close contacts may include family members, co-workers, emergency responders, and other contacts.”
The fact that the three were on the same flight gives more reason to believe that the Fort Bend County case will be confirmed by the CDC.
Fort Bend County Judge KP George states, “We are working around the clock with all local, regional, and statewide health authorities to monitor the situation and update the public.
Katy ISD Schools Reside in Both Harris and Fort Bend Counties
Katy ISD, which have all their schools in either Harris or Fort Bend Counties, have been keeping staff and parents appraised of the situation.
Katy ISD Response:
March 5, 2020
Dear Katy ISD Parents, Community and Staff,
By now you have likely heard about the recently confirmed presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Houston area. The District remains in contact with local, state and federal health agencies, all of which have stated that no action is required of school districts at this time. Until such action is deemed necessary, there are no plans to close schools.
Based on current guidance, it is recommended that schools continue to take the same steps to protect against COVID-19 as are taken to prevent other common communicable diseases such as the cold and flu. While the identification of a new illness can be alarming, together we can continue to help protect our school community by following basic prevention practices. At the campus level we are ensuring sufficient soap and sanitizer supplies are available to students, staff and visitors in all locations, at all times. While maintenance staff is also thoroughly disinfecting frequently used surfaces on a regular basis.
Katy ISD supports our parents’ decisions regarding their child’s well-being and attendance at school. Absences related to this matter will be coded as excused. The District is currently reviewing adjustments to the high school final exam exemption requirements and will provide additional information at a later date.
Finally, as we prepare for spring break, students and staff who are traveling outside of the country are asked to follow all federal regulations when reentering the country that may include medical screenings, quarantine and self-reporting. New enrollees from outside of the United States should contact their campus prior to visiting the school and completing the enrollment process.
For updated information on COVID-19, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Parents React to Katy ISD Message
Dozens of parents have commented on the Katy ISD Facebook page after they sent out a message on March 3. They were concerned about the spread of germs in the schools. Several complained about lack of soap in bathroom dispensers, and asked if hand sanitizers were in all classrooms. Others were worried about the germs spread from PE activities by touching the gym floors.
In the comments, high school parents also engaged in a discussion about the exemption policy in place where students are allowed a limited number of absences in order to exempt an exam. This restriction causes a lot of students to go to school when sick to protect their exemptions.
Lamar CISD Attendance Statement
Fort Bend County's Lamar Consolidated Independent School District released the following statement today regarding perfect attendance recognition and exam exemption criteria:
Mar 05, 2020 | Community Relations
Lamar CISD is aware of the presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Fort Bend County. The safety of our students and staff remains our top priority and we are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Fort Bend County Health Department to help protect our students and staff from all communicable diseases.
We do not want any students or staff coming to school sick.
Due to the concerns surrounding COVID-19, Lamar CISD will suspend perfect attendance rules for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. As a result, 2019-2020 perfect attendance recognition will be from August 26, 2019 – March 3, 2020. Please note that compulsory attendance law still applies.
Lamar CISD will also suspend exam exemption criteria related to Spring attendance for Spring 2020 exams. All other campus criteria for exam exemptions still apply. Please note that compulsory attendance law still applies.
Concerns regarding all medically fragile students will be handled on a case-by-case basis and parents should consult with their child’s school nurse.
Watch last night's press conference here from Fort Bend County Health & Human Services:
Texas Governor Greg Abbott addressed the public in a press conference this afternoon and stressed that officials had anticipated this situation and that officials are prepared to address it.
This is a developing story. Learn more about the virus at the CDC website.