For now, students are still expected to follow specific protocols and contact the school nurse if they have contracted COVID.
“Last year, if we were made aware of a positive case of COVID-19, an email would be sent to the entire campus community,” Principal Gary Comalander said. “We had NEISD staff that conducted contact tracing and all students were in masks. If you were a close contact, you were notified individually.”
However, if administration is notified a student has tested positive for COVID, this year they’re sending letters to specific classrooms in which the COVID-positive student was in.
“We feel it’s important that you have more individualized notification this year so that you will know your child was in a classroom with someone who tested positive,” Comalander said. “We want you to be able to have information so that you can best decide whether your child should quarantine or be on the lookout for symptoms.”
The notification doesn’t mean students should stay home if they’re not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Those with questions can contact the school nurse, Karen East, or Principal Comalander.
“We’re asking families to make contact with our school nurse,” Comalander said. “Right now, typically they’re making contact with the teacher, which our teachers then share that information with our school nurse and myself. So, ideally, they let our nurse know, but eventually it does get to me.”
Students are advised to stay home or seek proper medical care if they are experiencing cough or sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, chills, diarrhea, repeated shaking with chills, feeling feverish or temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit, muscle pain, headache, or has had known close contact with a COVID-positive person in the last 14 days.
“It’s hard to say for sure, but we feel like most students or families are notifying us,” Comalander said. “There’s always some students that are absent that you’re not sure about, but for the most part, we think most are notifying us when they are feeling sick or have anything COVID related.”
For the first week of school, Comalander has confirmed that COVID cases were still in the single digits.
“The number one way to keep everybody safe is have everybody doing what they’re supposed to do, and that is don’t come to school if you’re having the symptoms, whether it’s COVID or not, you know? If you have a fever, that goes back to many years of don’t take Aspirin or Tylenol and still come,” Comalander said. “Stay home if you have any of those symptoms, and do your best to keep social distancing, which no doubt, is tough with 3,500 students and adults on this campus.”
While NEISD did offer opportunities for those who qualified to get the vaccine last year, this year the district has not yet hosted vaccine clinics while vaccination opportunities are so readily available in the community.
“Statistics for [who’s gotten the vaccine] are very difficult to know because there is no requirement to share. But we do know in Bexar County that over 50 percent have gotten a vaccine,” Comalander said. “But as far as in each location, it’s really impossible to know everything. Depending on who you read the data from, vaccines work, but that is a personal choice that each family and student has to make.”
As of now, there is a temporary mask mandate in effect inside any North East building, including on campus, in athletic facilities, and school busses. Students, staff, faculty, and visitors are expected to follow the mandate inside NEISD buildings.
“TEA has passed already that a student can use up to 20 a year if there’s COVID related proof – positive test or quarantine by a doctor,” Comalander said. “Those absences, while they’re absences, wouldn’t count against the loss of credit. So that and whenever a student has a doctor’s note, you always want to turn it in because that doesn’t count against you.”