Public, private, charter schools address coronavirus preparations & opening plans
Published 12:12 am Saturday, March 14, 2020
The Port Arthur Independent School District, along with Nederland and Port Neches-Groves school districts, announced multiple times that students would be returning to school as planned Monday morning following the end of Spring Break.
Those districts reiterated that commitment with more opening announcements Friday at approximately 5 p.m. after disaster declarations in Texas and Jefferson County and a national emergency issued by President Trump on Friday.
Private and charter schools in Port Arthur including Tekoa Academy, Bob Hope and St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School addressed their own preparation plans in response to the spreading COVID-19 virus.
A message from Bob Hope School announced that health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services believe the risk to the school community is low at this time, allowing them to continue with a normal routine.
Based on the current information, health officials are recommending local communities and schools take the same steps to protect against coronavirus as one would take to prevent the spread of everyday illnesses like the common cold or flu.
Parents of Bob Hope School are being asked to complete a travel survey located on the district’s website as soon as possible.
Tekoa Academy of Accelerated Studies students will not return to school till Tuesday.
The campus is receiving a truckload of food for student lunches, snacks and meals Monday.
Tekoa Academy CEO Dr. Paula Richardson said she is taking extra precautions to discuss the upcoming food handling procedure.
“What we’re talking about is how we are going to receive food that is coming into our school,” Richardson said. “We are making sure that one thing that is important is delivering that food safely.”
Richardson mentioned that the driver is coming in from out of state.
“You never know where people have been or what they’ve touched, so we are making sure that our employees designated to receive these food containers have safety covers and we will wash and sanitize everything before it goes into the school,” she said. “We are thinking about our students, parents and ourselves in this situation.”
Richardson said Deputy Director Princess Chretien, who runs the school’s safety program, is Emergency Management Certified and will address all students and teachers who have recently traveled during spring break.
One unidentified teacher traveled to England and will be quarantined for 14 days in compliance with CDC guidelines before returning to school.
“Port Arthur and Southeast Texans are being vigilant,” Richardson said. “I am thankful to God that we understand that we need to do our part, use God and our wisdom, so we will not be victims to this virus.”
School officials will meet with members of the safety program and Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie on Sunday to discuss any new information.
“Everyone is doing what he or she needs to be doing,” Richardson said. “One thing we do not want is to close school’s down. We want to provide what our students need.”
Tekoa Academy campuses were closed down on March 5 to allow for extra sanitizing and cleaning efforts prior to Spring Break. Disinfecting efforts are continuously ongoing.
Students from the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in Port Arthur will be embarking for their Spring Break vacation March 16-20.
Karen Gillman, associate director of communications and development at Catholic Diocese of Beaumont, said at this time “the superintendent of Catholic Schools is assessing the situation.”
No more information was available at press time.