Katy Reacts to Mass Closures to Help Curb Spread of Coronavirus

KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

March 13, 2020

By Natalie Cook Clark


The Katy community joins families from across the nation as they respond to mass school, event, and business closings that were announced yesterday in light of the coronavirus.



Katy Residents Seek Answers

Yesterday, Katy residents scrambled to find answers as local school districts announced cancelations. Many area events (Rodeo on Wednesday) have been postponed or canceled as the community reacts to the coronavirus threat.



COVID-19 Cases Expected to Rise

The United States is reporting 1,680 cases of COVID-19 also known as the coronavirus. As of today, at least 41 Americans have died of the illness. Doctors and the CDC warn that cases are expected to go up as the virus continues to spread. To minimize risks here, and throughout the country, businesses and schools are adjusting to help curb the spread of the virus.


Yesterday Katy ISD and Fort Bend ISD announced closures.


Katy ISD:

March 12, 2020 - Over the past few weeks, Katy ISD has been actively monitoring the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation and has remained in constant contact with health officials who have been providing guidance and recommendations. Because the safety of our students, staff, and families is a top priority, we have decided to act out of an abundance of caution to protect everyone’s health and wellbeing by postponing the return from spring break by at least one week. In addition, all campus events, field trips, student trips and UIL practices and competitions are postponed effective Friday, March 13, 2020 through Sunday, March 22, 2020. We will keep our community informed on whether the temporary closure will need to extend beyond March 22. If the District needs to extend the closure, instruction will resume via online virtual learning. Teachers will be prepared for online instruction over the next week should that become necessary.




Previous Changes to Attendance

The district had previously announced that any absences due to the virus as of March 5, 2020 will be marked excused. The attendance requirement for final exam exemptions have also been waived. Grade averages and conduct requirements are still in effect. It is important to note that as of now NO students or Katy ISD employees and staff have tested positive or are listed as presumptive positive for COVID-19.


Families with questions can email Katy ISD at coronavirus@katyisd.org.


Fort Bend ISD:

Due to growing global concerns and rising numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in both Texas and in the Houston region, Fort Bend ISD will suspend classes for at least two weeks effective March 16 while Fort Bend ISD finalizes online learning logistics and training for staff.


Both districts will continue to keep staff and students appraised on the situation and if/when online education will start or if the school closure will continue.


Colleges and Universities Respond to COVID-19

Locally, colleges and universities have communicated to students and parents about their adjusted schedules due to the coronavirus.


The University of Houston-Victoria and UHV Katy started spring break early yesterday, at noon, canceling all face-to-face and online classes. Decisions about classes after spring break will be made and communicated next week.


Lone Star College has extended their spring break and plans to resume classes Monday, March 23.


Houston Baptist University will not hold any residential classes for the week of March 16-21, 2020. Online classes will continue as scheduled. The residential class schedule will resume remotely (online or alternative format) beginning March 23 until further notice. HBU will continue to monitor the conditions around COVID-19 and a future decision will be made as to when face-to-face instruction can resume.


Texas A&M cancelled classes March 16-20. The university said it will resume online-only March 23-April 28. Campus will remain open to faculty, staff and students. Texas A&M leadership will advise faculty members on all protocols in the days to come.


At UT, school officials announced their decision to extend spring break for students by one week in response to the spread of the virus. Classes will resume on campus on Monday, March 30.




In addition to local school districts and colleges, cancelations of events are quickly adding up. Major cancelations include:


  • SEC Tournament, scheduled for Katy’s Merrell Center

  • The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

  • Tour de Houston

  • Disneyland and Walt Disney World

  • Broadway

  • NBA

  • The Masters, postponed

  • Major League Baseball, postponing opening day



A New Way of Life


The list of local and national events continues to grow as residents try to make sense of this new way of life.


While the vast majority of online comments on the Katy ISD Facebook page expresses praise of the district for how they have reacted to the growing pandemic, some families aren’t pleased.


No School, Working Parents Struggle

“Great so Katy ISD shuts down for an entire week which means we as parents have to find things to do with our kids for an entire week,” writes a Katy mom on Facebook. She talks about how families will still get kids together for activities, play groups, and errands. “Can someone confirm for me has there actually been any cases within our teachers or students in Katy ISD?”


Katy ISD’s closing also raises concern about what working parents will do with their children. Local preschools and daycares are all assessing how they will handle this unprecedented situation.


Emergency Health Declarations

The City of Houston has declared a health emergency declaration. The declaration was put into effect on Wednesday, March 11 and would be in effect for seven days unless city officials extend it.


Fort Bend County, which reported the first presumptive positive COVID-19 case in Texas, made a declaration as well on Thursday, March 12. Fort Bend County Judge KP George signed a declaration of local disaster for public health emergency in a statement March 12.


This is still a developing story as local officials and businesses continue to meet and assess the situation.


How are you handling the local closures? What is your plan for your children? Let us know in the comments.


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