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Third Waco ISD school in two days closes for COVID-19 concerns

Indian Spring Middle School joined G.W. Carver Middle School and Lake Air Montessori Magnet School in closing due to cases of coronavirus

WACO, Texas — The Waco Independent School District announced Thursday it was closing Indian Spring Middle School at 1 p.m. due to the risk of COVID-19 spread.

Principal Joseph Alexander said two people at the campus tested positive and that a "significant number of employees" were in quarantine because of those cases.

Alexander said the school planned to reopen for in-person learning on Nov. 13. The school was closed at 1 p.m. to move to full remote learning.

The decision comes after G.W. Carver Middle School closed Wednesday along with Lake Air Montessori Magnet school. 

G.W. Carver and Lake Air both planned to resume in-person learning on Nov. 12, according to the district. That back to school date was later moved to extend through Nov. 20

It was the second time G.W. Carver closed because of positive COVID-19 tests. The first time was Oct. 2.

District spokesman Joshua Wucher said six people at G.W. Carver tested positive Saturday. He said no new cases were reported but several people reported symptoms and were waiting for final results.

"The result is that more than half of our teachers are currently in quarantine or out awaiting test results," said Principal Dr. Isaac Carrier. "While most of our educators are able to teach remotely, the number of employees out presents a challenge for appropriately supervising students without bringing large groups of students together in the same space."

Dr. Isaac Carrier, principal of G.W. Carver Middle School, sent the following message to Carver families and employees on Thursday:

“Throughout this pandemic, we have been working closely with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District to protect the health and safety of our students, our staff and the community. Today, we received guidance from the health district that our campus should remain closed through Nov. 20 in order to reduce the potential spread of the virus.

“Accordingly, all G.W. Carver Middle School students will continue learning remotely through Friday, Nov. 20. Our campus will reopen for in-person instruction after Thanksgiving Break on Monday, Nov. 30.

“Since we made the decision to transition to fully remote instruction, eight more people, who have been on campus at G.W. Carver, have tested positive for COVID-19. The virus is most frequently transmitted when someone is within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes, and our health services department is in the process of identifying anyone who may have been in close contact with someone who tested positive. However, given the number of cases, it may take more time than usual to complete that process.

“If your student was in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you will receive a personal phone call and will be instructed to quarantine your student at home for 14 days from their last contact with the person who tested positive. We expect to finish notifying close contacts from these cases by the end of the day tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 6).

“In the meantime, if your student has been learning in-person at G.W. Carver, I would encourage you to act as if they have been exposed to COVID-19. To the extent possible, your student should remain at home. Avoid congregate settings, limit public activities, and practice social distancing. Cover any coughs or sneezes. Clean hands often.

“You should also monitor your student for possible signs of COVID-19, which can vary from mild symptoms to severe illness and include the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

“Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If your student develops any of these symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider.

“Free COVID-19 testing is available in our community, and I would encourage you to consider taking advantage of it. You can find a list of community testing sites and hours at covidwaco.com. Please note that pre-registration is required.

“As I wrote in yesterday’s letter, we will also offer free rapid tests to screen students for COVID-19 before our campus reopens for in-person instruction. We’re still working out some of those details and will provide more information soon.”

Lake Air Principal Stephanie Tankersley said Wednesday, two people on campus tested positive.

“Several other people have also reported symptoms that could be a sign of COVID-19 and are awaiting test results," said Tankersley. "In fact, 20 employees and nearly 100 in-person students were out today (Wednesday) following close contact with someone who tested positive, waiting for test results, or for other reasons."

Students at all three of the schools without internet access at home were able to check out a mobile hotspot. Anyone needing technical help can call the student help desk between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 254-284-1072.