AISD records first positive corona tests, Abbott keeps bars closed, masks on

Alpine ISD Superintendent Becky McCutchen




After just over six weeks of Alpine ISD schools back in session for both in-person and remote instruction, it’s now remote for all high schoolers.

Superintendent Becky McCutchen this week announced two individuals at Alpine High School had been diagnosed with COVID-19 between Sept. 17 and Sept. 21. Beginning Sept. 22, the high school switched to remote learning for all students through Monday, Oct. 5. All high school sporting events scheduled during that period were canceled as well. In person classes will resume on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

In her statement, McCutchen said the Department of Homeland Security Public Health Region 9/10 was working with the school to identify those who may have been in close contact with the positive individuals. Those who were in close contact and need to quarantine will be notified.

“The decision to move the high school to remote learning was made when we learned about positive COVID-19 cases on the campus and possible exposure to students,” McCutchen later told the Avalanche. “We want to ensure we are following all safety and health protocols at all times, and this decision was not made without considerable thought and discussion. By allowing the students and staff to remain at home for 14 days, we are hoping to stop any further spread on the campus. Our plan is to resume in-person learning and student activities at the high school as soon as the 14-day quarantine period ends.”

Around the state, much was made beforehand about Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Sept. 18 press conference, but his announcement disappointed many as he extended bar closures, and failed to lift his mask mandate.

After announcing the state’s COVID-19 numbers had “steadily and significantly declined” and the number of new cases and hospitalizations had been “cut by more than two-thirds,” he allowed restaurants, retail stores, gyms, museums, libraries, and offices to expand to 75% capacity.

But Abbott maintained that bars were “nationally recognized as COVID-spreading locations.” He said case numbers needed to decline further before reopening bars, but didn’t say what those numbers might be.

Abbott also announced that hospitals in 19 of the state’s 22 hospital regions could offer normal elective procedures again, and nursing homes and other long-term care facilities could reopen for visitation with restrictions. In the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and Victoria regions, COVID hospitalizations were still “in the danger zone,” and those regions were excluded from this new reopening stage.

Two weeks ago, Abbott extended the disaster declaration he issued in March, and with that, the mask mandate he put in place in July remains in effect until further notice for counties with more than 20 active COVID cases.

There have been many questions about the reliability of the state data, and state health officials last week announced they were changing the way they calculate the positivity rate - the ratio of cases to tests - an acknowledgment that the previous method was flawed. Abbott made no mention of improving the state’s unreliable data.

Finally, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick alluded to wearing armbands as proof of a negative coronavirus test, saying, “When I’m with a group of people who have been tested, and you know they have an armband or you know that they’re safe, it allows you to be as normal as can possibly be in these times.”

No armband order was issued.


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