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Whitney ISD reports COVID case within days of opening

Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 10:42:31-04

WHITNEY, TX — From the start, many have worried that schools would become the next coronavirus hotspots as they re-opened.

Now, we've learned of a school-connected case in Central Texas.

Parents in the town of Whitney learned over the weekend of a middle school student who tested positive for COVID-19.

While Whitney parents may not have been too worried about sending their children to class to start, they have become very worried now.

As parents lined up to pick their children up from Whitney schools, most conversations centered on COVID and the student here that caught the virus.

"They've only been in school since Thursday was their first day back and it's only been 2 days and we've already got a case," said Juan Vasquez, a parent of 3 Whitney ISD students.

Vasquez wonders now about his children's safety.

Whitney has a coronavirus plan, which, on paper, seemed like more than enough.

But schools can only do so much with a virus brought in from outside, and before symptoms show.

Reached by phone, Superintendent John McCullough says every place that student went was sprayed with disinfectant, and that contact tracing had begun for the student's contacts.

Other sources tell us district leaders looked at security camera footage to help trace the student's movements.

Hill County Judge Justin Lewis calls Whitney's response, "substantial."

"Whitney ISD did this with textbook precision in their response... and have a couple of people in quarantine. I'm proud of the way they've handled this, and I hope others can look to this as an example of how to do things,” said Lewis, who along with Hill County Emergency Management, keeps track of coronavirus cases in the area.

Lewis may be happy with how the district responded, but parents say, other things about what Whitney ISD does, concern them.

Vicky Graham, with two grandchildren at the high school, says Whitney schools need to stick more closely to their own rules.

”Enforce the rules more and make sure they're 6 feet apart or what have you, and not bunch them up in a classroom like they normally do."

Many parents complained about the lack of social distancing not only in the classroom but in the school cafeteria as well.

They say what's important outside should be important inside too.

”Am I convinced that what they're doing is going to keep the virus from spreading? No, I just think it's gonna get worse,” said Vasquez.

In the meantime, Superintendent McCullough spent Monday bouncing from campus to campus, perhaps with an eye toward tightening the district's coronavirus policy.