KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
September 8, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
Today, Katy ISD opens its school doors to students opting for in-person lessons for the first time since March. The District has been proactive by establishing protocols to keep students and staff safe – including new procedures requiring everyone on campus to wear face masks.
The King twins return to Rylander Elementary for face-to-face instruction.
On Tuesday, September 8, Katy ISD schools welcome students back to in-person learning for the first time since the spring. Students attending the District’s newest schools, Jordan High School and McElwain Elementary will enter their buildings for the first time.
Katy ISD has taken added precautions to keep their students and staff safe from COVID-19 and other illnesses. The District requires all students and staff to wear face masks. Originally this protocol included students above third grade. But recently, the District announced that the mask requirement will apply to everyone, including the District’s youngest students.
Katy ISD’s Mask Policy
All staff are required to wear a mask, face covering, or face shield when in a Katy ISD facility
Students, grades 4-12 are required to wear a mask, face covering, or face shield upon arrival to school and dismissal, when riding buses, in hallways, common areas, and in classrooms.
Students in grades PK-3 are required to wear a mask, face covering, or face shield upon arrival and dismissal, in the hallways, common areas, on the school bus, and when developmentally appropriate, in the classrooms.
Katy ISD recognizes younger students and their range of abilities, including the wearing of a facial covering during classroom instruction, may vary due to the child’s stage of development. Alternative measures of safety are available for younger students who may not be able to wear a facial covering at all times when inside the classroom. Parents of PK-3 grade students are encouraged to contact their child’s campus principal or campus nurse with questions regarding the wearing of a facial covering within the classroom.
Experts from Local Hospitals Support District's Decision
Medical experts from Katy’s Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus agree with the District’s decision to enforce masks.
“Wearing a mask is one of several important ways we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 which has affected the health of millions of Americans and kept many of our children, and their educators, from returning to school,” says Dr. Pamela McGraw, Texas Children’s Pediatrics Town and Country at the West Campus.
“I like to think of it in the same way we put on our seatbelts: It is something simple we do to stay safe and prevent injury when we are in the car,” says Dr. McGraw. “For the current time, wearing a mask is something simple we can do when we are in close contact with others to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 or any illness will be more important than ever as Katy ISD returns to in-person school. In addition to wearing masks, stressing proper and frequent handwashing will be key in any school.
“The main mode of transmission of COVID-19 is via droplets, such as coughing or sneezing. However, as the virus may survive on certain surfaces for some time, it is possible to get infected after touching a virus-contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose,” explains Dr. Galit Holzmann-Pazgal, Associate Director of Infection Prevention at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.
Washing Hands - Lead by Example
“Frequent handwashing is vital to mitigate the spread,” says Dr. Holzmann-Pazgal. “School-aged children can certainly understand the necessity for hand hygiene in protecting against the spread of infectious pathogens.”
Younger children also respond well to adults modeling proper hand hygiene techniques.
“Fun, age appropriate posters are available on the CDC website,” says Dr. Holzmann-Pazgal. “Teachers can serve as role models and reinforcers of good hygiene practices in the classroom and parents should aim to be models at home.”
Get the Flu Shot
In addition ot frequent hand washing and wearing face masks, Katy families can protect their families from illness by getting this season’s flu shot.
“This year it is more important than ever to get your flu shot,” says Dr. McGraw. “There is concern that as COVID-19 continues, it will overlap with the flu season. This will create a further burden on our health care system. Getting the flu may also add to students and teachers being out of school. The flu vaccine is one way we can all help.”
While Katy ISD has taken many measures to keep students and staff safe, masks will perhaps be the change that many students will need to adjust to the most.
“No matter how you get your child to wear a mask, please do not instill a sense of fear,” says Dr. McGraw. “Many children and adults have felt tremendous fear and loss of control from COVID-19 through its impact on the health of our nation and our access to work and school.”
Parents Choose Online or In-Person Instruction
This year, Katy ISD offers parents the choice to decide how their own children will attend school. Decisions on in-person vs. Katy Virtual Academy (KVA) can be reassessed at the completion of each grading period.
Katy ISD recently released their COVID-19 Cases Dashboard that will help keep parents informed and able to make the best decision for their family.