Dallas ISD Asks Parents to Report Some Spring Break Travel

Just days after SMU and Highland Park ISD announced guidance for students and their families that would be traveling for spring break, Dallas ISD also issued a letter Monday to parents regarding spring break travel.

The district’s spring break period will be March 16-20.

Federal, state and local health organizations have recommended that all travelers returning from international destinations that are an alert level 3 or 4 follow self-monitoring guidelines for 14 days to watch for symptoms of the illness. Because of that – and the possibility of delayed re-entry – most districts have taken steps to advise parents about what might happen, and to reassure as well.

So far, there is only one possible case of COVID-19, or coronavirus, in North Texas – a 3o-year-old Frisco man who had a presumptive positive test for the virus this week. Collin County health officials said the man contracted it traveling to California.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended avoiding any non-essential travel to Level 3 Travel Health Notice countries — Italy, China, Iran and South Korea — where the outbreak of COVID-19, or Coronavirus Novel, is significant,” the letter from Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa said. “The CDC has also recommended that those traveling to Japan, a Level 2 country, exercise enhanced precautions.”

“In addition, the CDC and Dallas County Health and Human Services recommend that travelers arriving into the United States from Level 3 countries stay home for 14 days from the time of their departure from the affected country,” the letter continued. “Travelers to other countries and areas affected by the spread of COVID-19 are asked to stay home if they get sick with fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher), cough, or have trouble breathing, and to contact a medical professional.”

Additionally, the district is also asking families who are planning to travel to level 2 or 3 countries and other affected areas to self-report with a travel form, which will be gathered by the district’s health services department as a precaution.

“In an abundance of caution, Dallas ISD will work with two outside vendors to deep clean and disinfect all schools
and district facilities during spring break,” the letter adds. “An outside vendor will also perform a high-level disinfection service on all district buses.”

Health Services is closely monitoring the progress of the illness and following the advice of the CDC and Dallas County health officials. School nurses have received direction and guidelines to follow if children or staff report to school with symptoms.”

The Texas Education Agency said last month that it was in contact with districts and the UIL to formulate plans in case the outbreak becomes more widespread.

“TEA is in the process of developing guidance for districts in the unlikely event of an escalation of the virus,” the agency said. “The Agency is in regular contact with the state’s 20 regional Education Service Centers (ESCs) across Texas, multiple school districts, and the University Interscholastic League (UIL).”

“It’s worth noting that in recent weeks, TEA has worked closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to monitor the number of flu cases in communities across the state,” the TEA added. “During this year’s flu season, upwards of 50 public schools in the state have temporarily closed due to high absenteeism among students and staff.”

These closures have also meant the cleaning and disinfecting of entire campuses to help prevent the ongoing spread of the flu.”

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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