A Message from Dr. Charles E. Dupre, Superintendent of Schools (12/9/20)
As I shared with our Trustees during Monday’s Board Meeting, providing a safe learning and work environment is and continues to be our top priority. Our enhanced health protocols and efforts to mitigate transmission of COVID have helped minimize spread in our schools, despite reported increased spread in our community. Because of the strength and effectiveness of our protocols, we will continue to operate as usual, even though Fort Bend County officials have raised the COVID-19 status from Orange to Red.
I know this change will raise the concern of some members of our community, which is why I wanted to assure you that we are staying the course and standing firm in our commitment to educate our students while maintaining a healthy learning environment. It is important to note that approximately 70% of homes in our community do not have school-aged children, which is why the “community spread” data is not necessarily relative to the number of documented positive cases among our students and staff. Our daily data analysis tells us that the risk of viral spread in our schools is minimal and that the greatest risk to our FBISD family members comes from activities outside of school.
Over the past nine months, we have established strong systems for data gathering and analysis to support our decision making, including consultation with a medical advisor and an advisory team made up of health care professionals. We also share our data and decision-making rationale with a community-based committee on a regular basis. Rather than focusing simply on the number of positive cases in our community, we study the number of documented cases among staff and students, staff and student absentee rates, and the number of staff using leave to assess our ability to operate our schools. We also study conditions in our greater community. Through this work, we have come to see that what we do in our schools has a direct impact on the greater Fort Bend community since we serve nearly 77,000 students and employ over 11,000 citizens.
To continue to keep our students and staff safe and healthy, it is critical that everyone follows all the established protocols – wear a face covering, socially distance, avoid large gathers, wash hands, and use hand sanitizer. It is also important that you monitor your child for symptoms and keep them home and/or take them to see a physician if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Members of our team will be working throughout the Winter Break closely monitoring all actions by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), local government and health agencies. Our district-wide mitigation efforts and contact tracing will continue to be administered throughout the Winter Break, and I will be meeting with principals and other district leaders on December 29 to update them on plans for our January return for Term 3. Any important, timely information will be shared with you via email and the district website.
In closing, I will remind you that we will not hesitate to return to 100% online learning if necessary, and we are carefully working through all data and decisions in a prudent manner with the best interest of our students and staff in mind. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters.