Copperas Cove High switches to all-virtual learning through November 5
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Copperas Cove Independent School District announced on Monday that as of Wednesday, Oct. 28, Copperas Cove High School students would be switching to all-virtual learning through at least Nov. 5.
Superintendent Joe Burns told media on Monday evening that the soonest students could return to campus will be Monday, Nov. 9. Friday, Nov. 6 is a professional development day for staff, followed by the weekend.
“There is no rhyme or reason, or special mix we go through to find Nov. 5,” Burns said during a Zoom conference call. “That is the CDC’s recommendation for 10 days from a positive lab confirmed test. The weekend would give us almost 14 days from exposure risk and that’s the reason we chose Nov. 5.”
The announcement came after a spike in cases among CCHS staff after last weekend.
On Friday Oct. 23, Copperas Cove ISD showed a total of eight active, test-confirmed cases among students and district staff on its dashboard, which is updated to show current active cases in the district.
But by Monday morning, that number had jumped to 20 active, test-confirmed cases within CCISD altogether.
The majority of the new active cases are at the high school, with a total of three students and nine staff on that campus with test-confirmed positive cases.
Burns discussed the reasoning behind closing the campus, stating that altogether, a total of 23 staff at the high school were out.
Nine had received test results positive for COVID-19, and the remaining 14 were either awaiting test results or had been exposed or had close contact with someone else who had tested positive.
Burns pointed out the on-campus practice of wearing face coverings, washing and sanitizing hands frequently, along with social distancing protocol.
“However, we do not have the ability to manage and make folks do everything like that when they are at home. I can tell you that the high school staff, we have had a number of staff who have attended funerals recently, where there have been a number of folks gathered from across the United States, around the country that have come to a funeral, or a wedding.
“So, we see those as possible opportunities for COVID-19 exposure,” Burns said.
He said that one of the challenges this school year is something every district is struggling with, finding enough substitute teachers to fill vacancies when those vacancies occur.
UIL: Students still practicing, competing
Burns discussed the fact that student UIL activities will still take place on campus.
“The UIL has taken a very strong stand related to athletics, band competition, where they are allowing campuses and teams to cancel the event, but they have to reschedule. This process today (transition to all-virtual learning) is not necessitated because of student numbers with COVID, it is necessitated because of increasing staff members who have tested positive for COVID. Although we are aware and cognizant of student possibility, we do not see that as an issue right now.
“We will still continue to have athletic practices for volleyball, football, basketball this week for boys and girls, cross country, tennis, those things we will still have band practice for competition. Again, all of those kids who come to campus have to be screened, have facial coverings, they have to sanitize when they enter the campus, when they leave. The only time they may remove their mask is when they are playing an instrument if they are in band, if they are participating in a contact portion of athletic competition. I know our coaches are having students wear their masks during practice, on the bench or sidelines.”
Approximately 1,700-1,800 students transition home, electronic devices and meals to be provided
Burns said he expected that a total of 1,700-1,800 students would be moving to virtual learning as of Wednesday. He also knows that there needs to be high-speed internet for students to be able to download and upload assignments.
He said that the district has deployed 109 hotspots and is waiting on more to come in. He added that there are approximately 1,100 electronic devices that have been issued to students within the district since the school year’s start. He noted that there are WiFi network courtesy booths in the parking lots at the high school, and that students would also be able to access hot spots at other campuses. He said the parking lot at Bulldawg Stadium also has a WiFi hotspot near the press box.
Burns said that Wednesday through Friday of this week, which will mark the end of the second six weeks, staff would be going through training, but on Monday, Nov. 2, staff would be on campus for families to check out devices for their students.
To check out a device, parents can complete a form at http://bit.ly/CCHSHelpMe, which will help them reserve a device prior to pickup.
“Our goal for every student to be able to access virtual learning,” Burns said. “With winter months coming and people coming in closer together for periods of time in enclosed places, we may very well end up having this happen.
“We knew that this day might come, but we wanted to make sure we could provide face-to-face services, as TEA required us to, but we also have a lot of kids who need that face-to-face instruction. It’s regretful that we have to move to a virtual learning platform for our high school kids for a while, and we hope that it is temporary because we do believe that our kids get a much better opportunity when they’re seen face to face. Some are doing well, some have challenges with technology and with assignments.”
Students may also pick up meals between 12:45 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day at any elementary campus, except for Mae Stevens Early Learning Center, and they will be provided with lunch, along with breakfast for the following day.
As far as going back to in-person classes on Nov. 9, Burns said the district will need to see the case count go down for the adults, and also make the district has enough staff to operate the campus.
“We have to get those staff back to work and have the ability to operate school in a safe manner for everybody. When you have that many students on campus, it takes a lot of hands to monitor and adjust as the day goes on,” he added.
CCISD reports its positive cases to the Texas Education Agency, and as of the most recent TEA report dated Oct. 27, the district has reported a cumulative total of 34, to include 16 student cases and 18 staff cases.
Interestingly, according to CCISD’s report to the TEA, the majority of the infection sources occurred off campus, with 25 cases. There are seven cases with an on-campus source of infection and two that were unknown.
On Thursday afternoon, CCISD reported a total of 22 active cases on its dashboard, to include four students and 10 staff members at Copperas Cove High School, one student at Copperas Cove Junior High, one staff member at S.C. Lee Junior High, two students and one staff member at Fairview/Jewell Elementary, one student at House Creek Elementary, and one student at Williams/Ledger Elementary.
Friday, Oct. 30, marks the end of the district’s second six weeks of the school year.