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COVID cases close schools in Utopia, Medina

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The Medina Independent School District and the Utopia Independent School District suspended classes and activates during a few days in the past week because of a positive case of COVID-19 in each school district, officials said.

Both school districts planned to reopen this week.

In the Medina district, Superintendent Kevin Newsom described what had happened in a Wednesday, Oct. 21, post on the district’s Facebook page that said, “We have had a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 at our ad ministration building. Due to the fact there is some exposure with principals and other administrators, I have selected to close our campuses until Monday morning (Oct. 26) to err on the side of caution.

“This will cancel all activities through Monday for Medina ISD. Our buses will run at 2:30 today and rerun again on schedule on Monday morning.

“All teachers will need to post or email asynchronous work to finish out the work week. I understand with this short of notice that may be minimal, and without our computers extra time may be given before any work is due. I apologize, but we all have known this day would come and there would be challenges.

“We will continue to deep clean pending school return on Monday.”

The superintendent divulged more information about the incident in a post on Saturday, Oct. 24.

It said, “School will resume Monday Oct. 26 as scheduled. There have been no more confirmed cases, and the staff member that was sick is quarantined and doing well.

“We will continue our safety precautions that are implemented at Medina ISD and have been used to prevent the spread of Covid -19. Stay safe and healthy.”

Newsom on Monday, Oct. 26, told the Bandera Bulletin, “Medina ISD closed for a couple of days as precautionary measures. One staff member in the administration office had tested positive.

“That employee had no contact with students and was quarantined away from school and is doing well. Medina ISD has had no more reports of any cases or anyone else sick at Medina ISD.”

In the Utopia school district, Superintendent Michael Derry reported in a Thursday, Oct.22, post on the district’s Facebook page,“Dear parents and community members, Utopia ISD has been notified of a positive case of COVID-19 within the community.

“The individual was on the Utopia campus for a volleyball game. For the safety and wellbeing of the students, faculty, and community and in an effort to prevent any spread of the virus, we will be closing school and suspending all school activities beginning today (Oct. 22) at 2:45 p.m.

“Normal activities will resume on Tuesday, Oct. 27. School buses will run at their normal time that morning.

“The fall festival will be postponed until Saturday, Oct. 31. Other details concerning other school activities including sporting events will be forwarded as soon as they are available.

“While school is not in session, custodial staff will perform a deep and thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all areas. Thank you again for your under standing!”

Derry gave the Bulletin this comment on Sunday, Oct. 25: “We had an individual from the community attend the volleyball game last Tuesday, (Oct. 20) who had his temperature taken and he was wearing a mask, and then on Thursday afternoon (Oct. 22)m we got the word he had been tested positive for COVID 19.

“Safety of our kids is always paramount, so even though (the individual) was wearing a mask, and we didn’t feel there was any danger to the kids, we felt, after talking with the school board, we should close for Friday and let our custodial team do deep clean and sterilization of our facilities.

“Monday (Oct. 26) is a holiday for us anyway. We will check everything before reopening Tuesday (Oct. 27).”

Bandera County Emergency Management Coordinator Carey Reed said she had no more details about the cases in the school districts but planned to talk to officials this week to find out more.

The case reported in Medina ISD was confusing because she knew of no active COVID cases in Medina, Reed said.

A case in Utopia might not show up on the COVID count for Bandera County since Utopia is in Uvalde County. The school district boundary extends into Bandera County, and the school district enrolls some students from the county.

The caseload in Bandera County continued to grow slightly this week, but not in the all-important category of “active” cases, which fell.

The active caseload in the county was at 5 on Oct. 18, but it fell to 4 by Thursday, Oct. 22, and then to 3 on both Friday, Oct. 23 and Monday, Oct. 26.

The active count is watched closely because in that stage, the virus still can be spread to others.

The total COVID caseload in Bandera County grew from 199 on Oct. 18 to 207 on Monday, state health officials said.

A total of 201 of those cases were considered recovered.

Three cases in the county resulted in the death of the individual infected. The number of fatalities associated with the virus has remained at 3 in the county for several weeks.