CISD Update Sept. 2 RECAP; COVID-19, virtual school, excused absences, and additional important information discussed

By: Rachel Norton
| Published 09/03/2021


THE WOODLANDS, TX — CISD Superintendent, Dr. Curtis Null, addressed the public during a YouTube live stream, Sept. 2.

- Watch the full Sept. 2 CISD Update here -

An overview:
All quotes are by Dr. Curtis Null

• Among all CISD students and staff, the COVID positivity rate is roughly 2 percent.
*Click here for current data*

• CISD is currently at a Safety Alert Level 4 and will remain there unless staff levels lower to the point that school is impossible to carry out. If a level 5 is implemented, the initial response or goal would be to keep the level 5 at an individual campus or feeder, as opposed to the entire district.
*View all Conroe ISD COVID-19 Safety Alert Levels*

• If TX Senate Bill 15 is passed, the district believes it will allow the following: In the event they have to close school, they will have the ability to carry out the necessary makeup days virtually, as opposed to adding in-person days to the end of the calendar. If it's signed into law, they will begin their preparation to have a virtual school option next school year.

• On Sept. 2, The Texas Education Agency (TEA) granted school districts the reimplemented ability to quarantine students whose close contacts at home have tested positive. Positive tests in the house will require quarantine for all the school aged children in the house.

• “Any absence related to COVID is an excused absence,” Dr. Null said. Keeping your child home because they have COVID is an excused absence. Keeping your child home because somebody in your house has COVID is an excused absence. If COVID is suspected, but your child tests negative, it’s still an excused absence.

• A button should be added the morning of Sept. 3 that allows parents to self- report a COVID positive student on the website instead of having to call the school. You’ll login through your student’s SSO, answer questions and input information. You’ll be asked if you would like the school nurse to call you. Once complete, you’ll receive an email with information regarding: return to school date, and the procedure to collect makeup work.

• There is no mask mandate for students and staff. “It's the Governor's executive order that says we cannot mandate mask usage. So, we will not violate that order. Now, if that order is thrown out by the Texas Supreme Court, and there's finality on that decision, at that point it would be up to our school board to make a decision about a mask mandate … but unless it gets to that point where it is legal to be done, there won't be any further conversation about that in Conroe ISD.”
*Skip to timestamp 41:50 to hear Dr. Null discuss mask mandates further*

• “There's no mandate for teachers or students to be vaccinated, that's their choice, we don't ask them. We've certainly made plenty of opportunities, we continue to do so for our teachers, but they have personal choice in the matter.”

• Dr. Null discussed COVID-19 Dashboard Data (found here), as well as which statistics he keeps a close eye on.
*Skip to timestamp 21:09 for a tutorial on how to read the data*
View COVID-19 Dashboard

• CISD is working with a local company that has air purification systems. This new technology allegedly captures the virus and kills it before redistributing purified air. They come in a variety of sizes that can be used in classrooms as well as common areas.

• CISD has doubled its COVID testing capacity.

| Notable Quotes |

Dr. Null on the current COVID numbers within CISD:
“I’m not going to stand here tonight and proclaim that we have turned the page and we're in a very good place, that's not where we are today. But, we're not standing here tonight talking about numbers that continue to increase, we are talking about numbers that we believe have plateaued and are now starting to slowly work their way down … we still see hotspots, at certain campuses, maybe certain feeder zones, that aren't showing this decline, yet.”

Dr. Null on the impact of closing schools:
“[I] ask you to come in and see through my lens, to help you to see what I see when those decisions are being made … Things that we know when schools close: We know that probably 30 to 40,000 of our students will go hungry because they rely on us to eat every day … We know that 67,000 children are now put back into the community, and some will go unsupervised and be put into very unsafe situations … We know that for those that can, mom and dad may have to make the decision to take the day off of work … A lot of families in our community, if they don't go to work they don't get paid, and if they don't get paid that affects the entire family; The ability to eat, the ability to have housing, electricity, all of those things … The other big impact for us is knowing that those 67,000 children have parents that need to be at work and they work in a variety of jobs ... we think about that healthcare system that right now is as fragile as it can be. Well, those nurses and doctors and all the other staff members at the hospitals, they live in Conroe ISD. And that giant Medical Center in The Woodlands and the big hospital here in Conroe, most of their employees live in Conroe ISD. So, if we close schools, all of a sudden I will receive phone calls from all of those hospitals’ CEO saying, ‘now I can't get nurses and I can't get doctors and we have all of these sick people that need the expertise of these folks, and we can't get them here,’ so that's a problem too … We know closing schools has got to be the last resort for us.”

Dr. Null on Absences:
“In high school, to get credit you have to be present 90 percent of the time. So, if you get quarantined for 10 days you fall below the 90 percent. Are you going to fail the course? No you're not. The campus is going to work with you. You want to keep track of those days that you're out, you're going to communicate that to your system principal. There may be a point that an attendance committee has to meet, just to go through that and and sign off on it, but all of our campuses, we've had communication with all of them, they know the situation that we're in, they want to work with people, they want you to feel comfortable about staying home when you're sick and not coming to school sick and infecting other people, so they're going to work with you on that all the way through.”

Closing statement: “This is not the time to let up, it's too early … I know all of us want that moment where we can kind of take that deep breath and and relax and just get back to a normal world, and I think we will get there this year, I really do believe that, but that day is not today.”

CISD is updating its website, so be sure to view it. These updates should be complete by Sept. 3.

- Watch the full Sept. 2 CISD Update here -

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