OP-ED: Trying our best to do our part

Published 6:45 am Saturday, December 19, 2020

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Dr. Rickie R. Harris

The 2020/2021 school year has been interesting, to say the least. WOCCISD teachers, administrators, and staff have gone above and beyond to provide quality education in the safest environment for our students and staff. We have had to make many changes throughout the district to meet COVID guidelines and do our part to slow the spread.

We have closed campuses to visitors to limit the number of people on campus. Upon entering buildings, masks are required, temperature is taken, and hand sanitizing stations are available for staff and students. Throughout the day, we encourage social distancing, mask-wearing, good hygiene, and handwashing.

Additionally, the maintenance department has increased cleaning capacity at all buildings. If a positive case is confirmed, our janitorial team has done a great job of sanitizing the areas exposed. Deep cleaning is the new standard, and we appreciate the daily commitment of the janitorial staff.

Buses now have hand sanitizing stations as well as temporal scanners for students entering the bus. Students are required to wear a mask and social distance during loading and transportation.  Buses are cleaned twice daily between routes.

Our COVID Compliance Monitor works with the local health officials and tracks the number of students and faculty isolated because of COVID-positive tests or quarantined because of close contact.

Furthermore, we plan to add outdoor seating for our secondary schools to have a nice lunch area. Middle and high school students will have an excellent eating courtyard that will allow additional seating for social distancing.

Throughout the year and following major holidays, it has proven beneficial for WOCCISD to offer remote learning to our students. Days and weeks following large social gatherings tend to show an uptick in cases and exposures. WOS-HS has adjusted scheduling and attends remotely on Fridays in an effort to keep the numbers of cases to a minimum.

Out of an abundance of caution, students will have the option to learn remotely following the Christmas break. Students that desire to learn in-person will still have the opportunity to attend on-campus; however, we ask that parents choose the remote learning option to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Please continue to monitor for symptoms and notify your campus if you have been exposed to a positive case.

None of these things would have been possible without the cooperation of our parents and students, thank you for your continued support. As I have communicated before, WOCCISD will continue to keep our student and staff safety a top priority. We will continue to keep our doors open so our students can come to a safe place each day and have the opportunity to learn from the great teachers we have at WOCCISD.

We believe in John Maxwell’s philosophy that “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”

Go Mustangs!


Dr. Rickie R. Harris is the Superintendent at West Orange – Cove CISD