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Superintendent Porterie talks reasons for temporarily closing Memorial High, says there is “no COVID outbreak”

In-person instruction for students at Memorial High School’s 10-12th grade campus and Career & Technology Education are temporarily canceled while those buildings are cleaned and disinfected due to several cases of COVID-19.

The campus buildings closed their doors Thursday and will reopen on Tuesday (Oct. 27).

Port Arthur Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie said Memorial High was notified one of its employees was infected with COVID-19 and one student who attends the CATE building.

Dr. Mark L. Porterie,
superintendent of schools

“There is no COVID outbreak,” he said. “The physical plant was closed to be cleaned and disinfected in order to stop any potential spread of the virus. Both cases are isolated and neither individual contracted the virus from an on-campus source.”

Due to privacy requirements, the district cannot release the names of the individuals or details that may identify them. The information has been released to the Port Arthur Health Department and the district is working with them on the matter.

Porterie said neither the employee or student are connected to each other and neither was exposed to the virus at the school.

The employee and the student notified the school of the positive test results.

Brandon Bartie, PAISD board president, said Porterie put everything into play per district guidelines and informed trustees of the situation.

Bartie said the board takes the matter seriously with safety in mind.

Porterie said the district understands this is a stressful time for everyone.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we advise you to monitor your health, follow the CDC guidelines and contact your primary care physician if you develop any COVID-19-related symptoms,” Porterie said. “We are vigilant about working with local and state health officials to investigate all reported or suspected cases of COVID-19 in our school community.”

While there may be some parents concerned about the CATE building and students working in close proximity, Porterie said he appreciates their concern and respects it.

“Staff and students are utilizing the required PPE and maintaining social distance,” he said. “We are doing everything possible in order to keep everyone safe.  We have provided virtual learning opportunities for each and every student in PAISD. Parents are not required to participate in student on campus learning, virtual learning is available to every student and parent in the district.”

Sports

Football and other sporting events will continue as scheduled.

Bartie said, from his understanding, the varsity football game on Friday will not be canceled and the Titans will travel to Galveston to take on Ball High. The decision to go forward with the game was determined by the superintendents from both school districts.

Message

Porterie said he is proud of the way the parents and students have handled learning during the pandemic.

Students must understand this is not the time to take learning for granted, Porterie said. There are no waivers for students for the 2020-21 school year; students will be accountable for all assessments.

The district, Porterie added, continues to do everything possible to keep staff and students safe.

Persons with questions are directed to the campus principals, and the central office staff will support them in responding to the best of their abilities, Porterie said.