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For the First Time in 23 months, Lancaster ISD Reports Zero Active COVID-19 Cases

It's been just under two years since the first coronavirus case was reported in Texas. Since then, millions of cases have been confirmed across the state, and at one point, variants of the virus seemed to appear each week. Now, in February of 2022, and for the first time since March of 2020, Lancaster ISD is reporting zero active COVID-19 cases from students and staff in the district.

Since the spring semester began, Lancaster ISD has seen a consistent decline in active cases. District leadership attributes the decline to intentional proactiveness. During the holiday break, the Lancaster ISD Health Services Department monitored the increase of active COVID-19 cases within Dallas County, finding that case numbers had increased within the district since the start of the holiday break. At that time, the district decided to pivot to virtual learning to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the school district and provide testing for staff, students, and parents. 

"Our decision to pivot to virtual learning was based on the increasing cases of COVID-19. It was not only spreading rapidly among the adult population but also the pediatric population," said Kimberly Simpson, Lancaster ISD Chief of Communications. "Our decision to pivot to virtual learning for an extra week after the holiday break has proven to be beneficial for our district and has played a significant part in our consistent downturn in active COVID-19 cases."

The choice to pivot from in-person learning to virtual learning was something all campuses had been preparing for since the fall semester.  So, when the decision was made to activate the instructional pivot plan, the district's educators and students were ready.

"We started preparing in July for everything, including a possible pivot. We also listened to our stakeholders and considered everything before making our decision, which is why our pivot allowed us to continue educating our students while providing COVID-19 testing sites and vaccines when our community needed them," Superintendent Dr. Katrise Perera explained. "In addition, our health services team actively monitor our numbers each day, and they continue to work to ensure our students and staff are safe. It is because of their hard work with our vaccine clinics, COVID-19 testing, and the partnership from our parents that we are at this point today."

Lancaster ISD School Board President Marion Hamiton shared the same sentiments.

“I am proud that our district has been proactive in creating a safe and healthy environment for our students, staff, and community since the return of in-person learning. Our goal is to always intentionally do what's best for Lancaster ISD as a whole," Hamilton said.

Lancaster ISD ultimately became the only public school district in the state of Texas to pivot to virtual learning amid the COVID-19 surge, and has been able to maintain the operation of all campuses since the start of the spring semester. Now, this week's positive COVID-19 cases are at zero. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but our recent report of zero positive cases is a bright spot for our district. We realize that there's no perfect way to address the COVID-19 pandemic; however, in Lancaster ISD, the health and safety of all students and employees will continue to guide our decisions," Simpson expressed. "We are grateful for our health services team and our parents who have supported our decisions, and we hope that this trend of zero positive COVID-19 cases continues."

Although COVID-19 cases are at zero across the district, Lancaster ISD will continue to navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic, and the mask mandate will remain in effect. In addition, the district will meet to discuss current COVID-19 protocols. Any adjustments made will be communicated directly with employees and parents. Lancaster ISD will also maintain its established COVID-19 quarantine protocols for students and staff and report campus COVID-19 cases daily to the district COVID-19 dashboard.

This article is based on active COVID-19 cases within Lancaster ISD as of Friday, February 18, 2022.