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Eanes ISD

FAQ

*Most recent FAQ is at the top

How is Eanes ISD notifying families of positive cases?

Given how easily transmissible the Omicron variant is, Eanes ISD is taking a more proactive and efficient approach to parent notifications. Beginning Jan. 18, each campus will send a notification communication once a day to the entire campus, showing which classes may have had a close contact exposure due to a positive case.

As the potential for exposure expands, our commitment to providing information to families will mean broader communication as well.

Why doesn't Eanes ISD close during a surge in cases?

Eanes ISD continues to rely on strategies to keep our staff and students healthy while keeping our schools operational. Doing so will necessitate patience, flexibility, creativity, understanding and grace. No doubt there will be interruptions and pockets of greater concern as we continue through the pandemic. We are confident we can address those situations individually while keeping our schools open and safe. All virus mitigation and air filtration measures we implemented over the past two years (which have kept our schools continuously open with few disruptions) are still in place.

Why isn’t Eanes ISD offering COVID testing?

As much as we want to provide testing opportunities for all interested staff and families, there are not currently sufficient quantities of COVID tests for us to offer this option. Eanes is still a part of the state testing program through TEA; however, the inventory of tests we were provided last year has been depleted. We continue to work with approved vendors to secure more tests, but there are no current or foreseeable assurances we can expect more tests any time soon.

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

According to the CDC:
You quarantine when you might have been exposed to the virus and may or may not have been infected.
You isolate when you are sick or when you have been infected with the virus, even if you don’t have symptoms.

What are the new isolation protocols after testing positive?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends shortening the time for isolation from 10 days for people with a positive COVID-19 test result to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. 

If you test positive for COVID 19, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should follow the CDC’s guidelines:

  • Stay home for five days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five days, you may end isolation.
  • Continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days.

Should you meet the criteria to end isolation after five days but not wish to wear a mask at school for the next five days, you will need to remain home for the 10-day isolation period. If you have a fever, stay home until your fever resolves. Of course, if you or your child feel ill, please stay home and do not return to school until you are well. Keeping our schools as safe as possible for all will allow us our best chance to keep our classrooms and schools open.
 

Will Eanes ISD Require Masks After Winter Break?

Not at this time. As we return from winter break, we strongly encourage masks indoors on all our campuses but will not require them.

When can a COVID-positive student/employee return?

In December 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its recommendation, shortening the time for isolation from 10 days for people with a positive COVID-19 test result to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. 

If you test positive for COVID 19, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should follow the CDC’s guidelines:

  • Stay home for five days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five days, you may end isolation.
  • Continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days.

Should you meet the criteria to end isolation after five days but not wish to wear a mask at school for the next five days, you will need to remain home for the 10-day isolation period. If you have a fever, stay home until your fever resolves. Of course, if you or your child feel ill, please stay home and do not return to school until you are well. Keeping our schools as safe as possible for all will allow us our best chance to keep our classrooms and schools open.

Eanes ISD school nurses will continue to send students home who have a fever, diarrhea, are vomiting, lose sense of taste or smell, or display significant symptoms of illness. Please refer to the EISD Health Website.

Why Did Eanes ISD Make Masks Optional?

Beginning Nov. 2021, Eanes ISD is removing its mask requirement, thus making face coverings optional for all students, staff and visitors at all schools and buildings. Until the COVID vaccine is readily available for children younger than the age of 12, face coverings are still strongly encouraged in elementary and middle schools; however, an individual’s choice to wear a face covering is left to his or her discretion, or that of the parents. We reserve the right to re-institute a mask mandate at any time, based on local conditions or directives from health authorities.

We recognize the concern of a new variant but we also acknowledge there may never be a perfect time to fully remove the mask mandate; the possibility of new variants may persist for the foreseeable future. Such is the unpredictability of a pandemic. One line of defense is to see more individuals exercise their option to be vaccinated. We strongly encourage everyone who is able to vaccinate to do so. Of course, if you or your child feel ill, please stay home and do not return to school until you are well.

Does Mask-Optional Apply to All?

Yes, As of Nov. 30, Eanes ISD is removing its mask requirement, thus making face coverings optional for all students, staff and visitors at all schools and buildings. Until the COVID vaccine is readily available for children younger than the age of 12, face coverings are still strongly encouraged in elementary and middle schools; however, an individual’s choice to wear a face covering is left to his or her discretion, or that of the parents. We reserve the right to re-institute a mask mandate at any time, based on local conditions or directives from health authorities.

What is the District's response to the Attorney General's letter?

Eanes ISD is in receipt of correspondence from the Texas Attorney General regarding the mask requirement in schools and on buses. District administrators are reviewing the correspondence and will consult with the Board of Trustees at its next Board Meeting.

In the meantime, the District's current requirement to wear a mask in school is still enforced.

What is being done to keep schools clean and protect students?

Frequent cleaning and disinfection will support a healthy learning and work environment for students and staff. Eanes ISD will continue with cleaning and sanitization protocols in its buildings and campuses. Sanitization stations (Including disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer) will remain throughout all buildings.

The District has Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available for students or staff upon request. Throughout the last school year, upgrades were made to facility HVAC systems including increasing air filter efficiency and installing iWave air treatment units, which helps clean the building air.

Can the District offer masked and unmasked classroom options?

The sustainability and ability to operationalize separate classrooms is not feasible.  
 
Operationally, it assumes that we could offer all the different programs we have in two different formats/settings (multiple classes, multiple grade levels, special education options, Spanish Immersion, gifted Math, specials, etc.). It is also very likely the divisions of the classes would cause class sizes to be unequal, which would not be fair for those classes which exceed preferred class sizes.
 
In terms of sustainability, it would be very difficult to maintain consistency, particularly if the students want to change from one option to another as conditions improve or decline. Another option would have students changing teachers throughout the year, which is not ideal for students or teachers.
 

If a student misses school because they test positive for COVID, how will they receive instruction?

If a student must isolate after testing positive for COVID, the school/teacher will implement the following:

  • The teacher will work with the student and parent to provide make-up work to the student, understanding there is not a remote instruction option available
  • Teachers will utilize the appropriate LMS (Seesaw, Showbie or Google Classroom) to provide students with work to be completed
  • The student will submit make-up work as noted in the student handbook (one school day per day of absence) after returning to school
  • iPads will be sent home with isolating elementary students
Why isn’t Eanes ISD offering remote learning?

We have always wanted kids in school, in person. We believe children need to connect and form relationships with their teachers. We believe children better connect with teachers and their peers in person. The CDC and APA both have strongly recommended in-person school for months.  

When we ask our teachers to teach in a blended model (students both in-person and remote) it is a struggle. We want to utilize our limited resources, people and dollars, to the best of our ability, and at present only in-person learning will be funded long term. Taking resources away from our in-person learning program, will in the end mean less resources for all.  

If Eanes ISD were to try and offer remote learning, we would have to increase class sizes in our in-person program and shift teachers, or hire a significant number of teachers to run a remote program. This is problematic not only given the status of current State funding, but also the shortage of qualified teachers around the state. Last year our teachers really struggled when they were forced to teach in-person and remote learning in a blended situation. Relationships were lost between students and teachers and the situation was not ideal. We know, bottom line, it is better academically and emotionally for a student to learn in-person and make those emotional connections.

For our students with significant medical needs, we ask them to work with us through our Home Bound program. 

For Eanes ISD families who would prefer remote learning for their child, the Texas Virtual School Network is a TEA-approved option. Please visit https://txvsn.org/ for more information. 

How are other districts able to provide remote learning?

Federal Funds, particularly ESSER funds, are what other school districts are using to fund remote learning. Those funds were distributed according to the number of low-income students in a school district. Eanes ISD has a very low percentage of low-income families compared to other school districts so the distribution of federal funds varied greatly. For example, Austin ISD received approximately $16 dollars per student to our $1 per student.  

We are aware other school districts with significantly higher per-pupil federal funds are offering a version of remote learning, but it is limited and not open to all who request it. In most cases, parents who want remote learning for their child, will not receive it.  

If Eanes ISD were to try and offer remote learning, we would have to increase class sizes in our in-person program and shift teachers, or hire a significant number of teachers to run a remote program. This is problematic not only given the status of current State funding, but also the shortage of qualified teachers around the state.  Last year our teachers really struggled when they were forced to teach in-person and remote learning in a blended situation. Relationships were lost between students and teachers and the situation was not ideal. We know, bottom line, it is better academically and emotionally for a student to learn in-person and make those emotional connections.

For our students with significant medical needs, we ask them to work with us through our Home Bound program. 

For Eanes ISD families who would prefer remote learning for their child, the Texas Virtual School Network is a TEA-approved option. Please visit https://txvsn.org/ for more information. 
 

What if my child does not qualify for Home Bound but I still want my child to have remote learning?

While we want all our families to stay in our district, for Eanes ISD families who would prefer a remote learning for their child for some period of time, the Texas Virtual School Network is a TEA-approved option. Please visit https://txvsn.org/ for more information.
 

What is the availability of plexiglass dividers?

Elementary parents may request a plexiglass divider for their individual child’s classroom desk. It is important to note that elementary students often move from place to place within a classroom as part of instruction, and the plexiglass will not be available in specials or the cafeteria.

All staff may also request a plexiglass divider for their individual work space.

In March of this year, when we knew more about the COVID-19 Virus and what strategies were deemed effective, the CDC adjusted their recommendations, including reducing physical distancing from 6' to 3' in some instances. At the same time, the CDC removed the recommendation for plastic shields or other barriers between desks. Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC’s community interventions task force stating that “We don’t have a lot of evidence of their effectiveness” in preventing transmission.

We know our students do not sit at their desks all day. There is movement both within the classroom and throughout the school. Face shields, while in no way as effective as masks, do move with the individual, which may be much more practical than plexiglass around a desk.  

The district has a supply of face shields that can be made available on request. 
 

Will vaccines be required for students or staff?

Per Gov. Abbott's order, Eanes ISD cannot require students or staff to get vaccinated. At this time, the State of Texas has not added the COVID-19 vaccination to the required immunization list for students. Eanes ISD cannot require students or staff to report vaccination status.

Texas law does not allow us to require COVID vaccinations for students, particularly since the FDA approval is classified as Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

In Executive Order GA-35, Governor Abbott prohibited political subdivisions from requiring proof of vaccinations in order to obtain a service or enter any location. This Order has been uniformly interpreted by Texas school districts and attorneys as prohibiting districts (as political subdivisions) from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.

Will the District require a negative COVID test to return to school?  

The CDC/APH/TEA do not recommend requiring a negative test. However, the CDC recommends people with a positive COVID-19 test result isolate five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. 

If you test positive for COVID 19, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should follow the CDC’s guidelines:

  • Stay home for five days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five days, you may end isolation.
  • Continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days.

Should you meet the criteria to end isolation after five days but not wish to wear a mask at school for the next five days, you will need to remain home for the 10-day isolation period. If you have a fever, stay home until your fever resolves. Of course, if you or your child feel ill, please stay home and do not return to school until you are well. Keeping our schools as safe as possible for all will allow us our best chance to keep our classrooms and schools open.

What happens if a staff member runs out of sick leave after testing positive?

In September, the Board approved a resolution to provide paid leave options to an employee who is instructed not to work due to a COVID-19 positive result. Since this leave resolution is retroactive to July 1, 2021, any employee who has been documented through HR as being absent on COVID leave will be reimbursed up to 10 days for leave used. 

Will students eat in the cafeteria?

Students will continue to eat lunch in cafeterias with access to and encouragement of hand washing or hand sanitizer. As weather and temperatures permit, middle schools may allow alternate options for students to eat outside (this is already practiced at the high school).

How will buses operate this year?

Buses will operate at full capacity. Hand sanitizer will be readily available and daily cleaning will continue. If a student on a particular bus route tests positive for COVID, all riders on the bus will be notified.

Will the District operate a COVID dashboard this year?

Yes, we will update an online dashboard reporting active COVID cases in our buildings.

What should I do if I suspect I have COVID?

Those who suspect they have COVID should contact their primary care physician for advice. The CDC recommends to isolate five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. 

If you test positive for COVID 19, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should follow the CDC’s guidelines:

  • Stay home for five days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five days, you may end isolation.
  • Continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days.

Should you meet the criteria to end isolation after five days but not wish to wear a mask at school for the next five days, you will need to remain home for the 10-day isolation period. 

 

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