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GRISD sees uptick in COVID-19 cases

By Jay Hinton
Glen Rose Reporter
Wayne Rotan

GLEN ROSE — In a five-day stretch in early November, Glen Rose ISD had 14 positive tests for COVID-19, and as of Wednesday, 23 of the 41 active cases in the district are at Glen Rose High School.

“Everyone is very tired of the procedures and protocols, but we must remain committed to reducing the spread in and around Somervell County,” Glen Rose ISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan said. “The protocols for how we reduce the spread the 16 hours a day out of school and on weekends is of equal or greater importance than the protocols for the eight hours a day we are in school.”

Because of the uptick, Glen Rose ISD administration moved to “substantial” COVID-19 activity level, and are now requiring temperature checks for all students when they enter schools or buses. All students and staff are still required to wear face coverings.

“While there is no current need to sound the panic alarm at this time, the recent trend of positive cases is not trending in the right direction,” Rotan said. “All of us must do our part to reduce the risk of exposure and mitigate spread in and outside of school.”

For now, Rotan said, decisions on extracurricular activities will be based on the level of the event and the positivity rate among the participants in the event.

“Glen Rose ISD has had more lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 the week of Nov. 2-6 than we had combined from Aug. 12-Oct. 30,” Rotan said. “The overall positivity rate of the district remains below 1% but certainly is not trending in the right direction. As a district, we have many cases that will transfer to recovered (this week), so the number of new positive (this week) will be critical.”

There are a total of eight cases at GR Intermediate, seven at the GR Junior High and three at Glen Rose Elementary. Late last week, Rotan said there were 63 students and/or staff members on precautionary home isolation.

“If any campus or the district were to hit a 2.5-3% positivity rate, the campus and/or district would move to the next phase, which is limited capacity by alpha,” Rotan said. “Students would alternate in campus and remote learning by days to limit classroom capacity to help us maintain six-foot social distancing. This will be a campus-by-campus decision based on the factors of each campus. A spike at one campus would not make other campuses or the district move to limited capacity."

Should the number trend even higher, the district would be forced to take more drastic measures, Rotan said.

“The last phase would be all virtual if any campus or the district were to hit a 5-6%  positivity rate,” he said. “Glen Rose ISD is very blessed to offer and deliver an outstanding online learning platform and will commit 110% of our time and energy to make sure students continue to receive the needed instructional supports. The staff has been prepared to transition to online learning since Day One should the need arise and will continue to provide the best education possible should the need arise. Again, this will also be a campus-by-campus decision based on the positivity rate and spikes.”

In the latest Somervell County report released Nov. 6, there were a total of 285 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. None are hospitalized, and all are at home in isolation. Since the pandemic began, three residents have died.

Rotan and county officials are delivering the same message in remaining vigilant.

“As a district and community we must all be diligent in self-identifying for symptoms and doing our individual part to help mitigate the spread,” Rotan said. “The vast majority of exposure with the district has been brought in from family unit spread and spread from outside social gatherings.”