Coronavirus

‘Several’ People Self-Quarantined At Houston ISD Due To Coronavirus Concerns

A self-quarantine does not mean someone has the virus and is used as a precaution to avoid potential transmission.

HISD’s Hattie Mae White Administration Building.

This story is part of Houston Public Media’s ongoing coronavirus coverage. For more stories and information about the coronavirus, visit the Houston Ready Hub.

The Houston Independent School District has asked several people to self-quarantine for 14 days, due to concerns about possible exposure to the coronavirus.

The unidentified people recently returned from a country on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel warning list or are closely related to someone who did, the district said Monday night.

The move comes after 12 people in the greater Houston area were identified as having COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. All the current local confirmed or presumed positive cases of the virus are connected with an Egyptian cruise line. 

The school district has no confirmed cases of the illness and placed the individuals on self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution, the district said Monday. 

The CDC recommends people returning from China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea monitor their health at home for 14 days before returning to work or school. It also recommends not taking public transportation and avoiding crowded places during that period. A self-quarantine does not mean someone has the virus and is used as a precaution to avoid potential transmission.

HISD did not give details on the number of individuals on self-quarantine or their exact positions within the district. 

In response to the quarantines, impacted schools will be sanitized and receive deep cleaning, the district said. Rooms will be fogged with a CDC-recommended disinfectant and air ducts will be cleaned. Schools not impacted will continue with standard cleaning procedures, but custodial staff will place “special emphasis” on cleaning door handles, desks, and other frequently touched areas. The school district added it is also santizing buses.

Custodial staff are stocking schools with supplies like soap, paper towels, and toilet paper, the district said. Surplus supplies have also been ordered for schools and are available if needed.

Below is the full statement from HISD:

The Houston Independent School District has no confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, acting out of an abundance of caution, several individuals have been placed on a 14-day self-quarantine. All self-quarantine individuals recently returned from a country on the CDC travel warning list or are closely related to someone who did. Schools will be identified specifically if cases are positively confirmed.

In any situation involving the assessment of students and staff, the HISD Health and Medical Services Department closely consults with the City of Houston Health Department or the Harris County Public Health Department, as well as the CDC, and follows guidelines established by these agencies.

As a precautionary measure, impacted schools will undergo a deep cleaning and sanitization. This includes fogging all rooms with CDC-recommended disinfectant and cleaning all air ducts, a common practice for potential cases of airborne viruses.

For all other schools, HISD is continuing to follow its standard procedure for routine cleaning and disinfection of schools, with special emphasis placed on disinfection of door handles, desks, and other frequently touched areas, as suggested by local and state health officials and the Texas Education Agency.

Custodial teams also are making sure all schools and buildings are properly stocked with needed supplies, including soap, paper towels and toilet paper. Surplus supplies also have been ordered and are on-hand, should schools need to be quickly re-stocked. Campus custodial staff should continue to follow the standard process for re-ordering supplies, if needed.

All routine school cleaning is done by in-house and contract custodial crews. Any additional cleaning and disinfecting supplies for teachers to have on hand in their classrooms must be ordered at the campus level. Bus sanitization is also taking place.

As Spring Break approaches, the district is asking all HISD students, families, and staff to take extra precautions when traveling. Follow all CDC travel guidelines, which provide country-specific information at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.

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Davis Land

Davis Land

Senior Producer

Davis Land is Houston Public Media's senior news producer. He leads coverage for News 88.7's morning newscasts and coordinates between beat reporters, newscasters, and the Houston Matters team. Before joining Houston Public Media, Land produced for WBUR's newscast unit and Atlantic Public Media. His work has been heard on NPR's...

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