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Press release/statement from Mr. Barnwell

Posted Date: 03/17/2020


Press Release/Statement from JISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell


It is obvious the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is now causing concern all over the world, including Marion County.  I want to assure you that Jefferson ISD is keeping track of this situation through proven and trustworthy sources such as the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  We also stay informed through daily teleconferences with Mike Morath, Commissioner of Education, as he is continuing to provide all school districts across the state with up-to-date information and recommendations regarding our local school district operations and planning as we navigate through this difficult situation.  

Due to our concern for the health and safety of our staff and students, along with our concern for members of the community, Jefferson ISD has decided to cease normal school operations through at least April 3rd, with an anticipated return date of April 6th.  Everyone should know that we are monitoring this situation daily to determine our best course of action as we move forward.  We will continue to gather information each day to determine whether or not the anticipated date of resuming regular school activities should be pushed back. I will publish press releases each week to keep everyone informed about this.  We will let you know if we plan to maintain April 6th as our return-to-school date, and/or if that date has to be amended and pushed back.  We will also post this information on our school’s website and Facebook pages, along with providing you with an “all-call” message from our District’s emergency phone system each week.  All student-related activities, including practices, games, and other events, have been postponed until further notice.

JISD staff are currently developing plans to provide instruction for all of our students while school is closed.  Obviously we don’t have all the ‘bugs’ worked out yet, as this will require a lot of communication between our staff and the students/parents.   Our goal is for most of our students to receive instruction through the use of technology.  We understand that many of our students may not have personal computers/devices to use at home, and there may be many homes without appropriate internet service.   We are working on plans to help alleviate some of those issues.  In the end, we know delivery of instruction for ALL students through the use of technology may not be possible.  Therefore, we are also working on plans to deliver instruction (and receive work/feedback) through paper/hardcopy work-packets, as needed.  We know our teachers, parents, and students will have many questions, just as we do. We don’t have all the answers right now.  As you all know, we have never had to deal with this sort of situation before.  But through good communication, positive attitudes, and mature approaches, I believe we can work through this situation and achieve many positive results.  I understand we will be asking everyone (i.e., administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and students) to do things you are not used to doing.  We all are in the same boat.  I believe if we all row together in the same direction, and I am confident this will turn out very well.  

We also plan to provide meals for all of our students.  Again, to coordinate this, it will require a lot of communication between district personnel and the parents/guardians.  We plan to deliver many of these meals to you….by using school transportation and driving along our routine bus routes in order to hand out these meals to parents/students at our regular pick-up/drop-off points.  We also plan to have a pick-up point at the high school campus (in the parent pick-up line) for our normal car-riders, walkers, high school students who drive, and others who would rather pick up these meals. 

As I said earlier, be prepared to receive more information on the coordination of both of these efforts (instruction and food provision).  After our staff returns to school on March 23, we will be able to finalize these plans, communicate with our students and parents, and then put our plans into action.  I am sure there will be snags along the way.  I am asking for everyone’s patience and understanding.  We CAN get through this.       

Again, I want to share these common sense actions/procedures, which are recommended by health professionals, in an attempt to help us mitigate/avoid the spread of illnesses. 
--  Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer, particularly after being in contact with surfaces that are generally used/touched by a high volume of people such as door handles, bathroom surfaces, gas pumps, computer keyboards, public transportation, and other similar environments.  
--  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
--  Stay home and seek medical attention when you are sick or have flu-like symptoms! 
--  Stay home if you have been in contact with anyone who is sick or is exhibiting symptoms! 
--  Try to avoid people who are sick or who exhibit symptoms of illness
--  Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow (or tissue, which should be thrown away immediately), when you sneeze or cough.
-- Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

Our teachers, school nurses, and staff work diligently to encourage these simple and effective habits mentioned above.  Please share this information with anyone you deem appropriate.  

I want to thank all of you for your support of our district.  Please feel free to contact my office should you have any questions or concerns. 

Stay safe, stay healthy, and Go Dawgs!!   

Rob Barnwell, JISD Superintendent
903-665-2461   ext. 3500