By Gaige Davila
After Port Isabel’s school district (PI-ISD) confirmed COVID-19 cases every day last week, administrators and staff are increasing their cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and sterilizing efforts throughout the campuses.
This past Tuesday, PI-ISD’s custodial staff learned to use ultraviolet (UV) light technology to sterilize high-touch surfaces, like door handles and desks. UV Clean Agency Owner and CEO Guido Pinto led the training for PI-ISD’s custodial staff, who were each given a hand-held UV light to use.
Across the district, PI-ISD staff are receiving training as COVID-19 cases, now increasing again in Cameron County, have reached the district’s campuses. This includes proper use of antibacterial soap, how to wash hands correctly, proper facemask use, through a training video that, upon completion, staff members will receive a $750 stipend from PI-ISD.
PI-ISD Superintendent Theresa Capistran said each campus confirmed a COVID-19 case last week, whether it was a student or staff member. All students and staff at were notified, Capistran said, once the cases were confirmed. Persons exposed to the COVID-positive people were notified personally. Capistran said she has been in contact with Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo “several times” since, receiving guidance on operating campuses amid COVID’s presence.
Spaces where COVID positive students or staff were in were deep cleaned, Capistran said, adding that the campuses are regularly deep-cleaned and sanitized. The students and staff were initially quarantined for 14 days. According to new Texas Education Agency (TEA) guidelines, students and staff who don’t have a negative or positive COVID test but were exposed to a COVID-positive person can quarantine for 10 days, so long as they are not symptomatic. COVID-exposed persons with a negative test are required to quarantine for 7 days.
Capistran asked the TEA for temporary campus closures for PI-ISD campuses with several COVID cases and they declined, saying PI-ISD needed to prove that the cases were contracted within the campus.
Some parents of PI-ISD students, however, would rather return to remote learning, amid COVID cases within the district.
“COVID cases will continue to arise in these situations unless the TEA grants them permission to return to remote learning only once again,” Abbie Mahan, a parent of Port Isabel High School and Junior High students, said. “It’s a sad and unfortunate position that our district is in.”
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