ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – The Coronavirus outbreak, at least locally, looks drastically different in September, than it did in May or June. Numbers have dropped significantly along with hospitalizations in both Midland and Ector County.
What is still lagging, is the positivity rate, which remains around 17 percent, according to data from the Ector County Health Department. By comparison, the statewide rate is just above six percent.
As the numbers dropped in most areas of the state, Governor Greg Abbott announced various businesses, except for bars, would be allowed to expand their capacity to 75 percent. Nursing home facilities that don’t have active outbreaks would also be allowed visitation. Barring any setbacks, Texas is one step closer to a full re-opening.
Meanwhile, many students in Midland and Odessa have not seen the inside of a classroom since early March as most were asked to attend online when the first local cases were confirmed.
Positivity rate and hospitalizations were just a few of the factors surrounding local school districts’ decision to offer other means of education this year.
Ector County ISD has been praised for its approach to the school year. Their plan included various options for teachers, students, staff,and parents, allowing each group to pick what they were most comfortable with.
Online and in-person options were included in the plan, which also featured a phase-in process while they monitored outbreaks in the community to ensure kids wouldn’t be rushed back too quickly. They have swiftly moved through each phase since the beginning of the year with very few issues.
The district did hit a bump in the road last week as Odessa High School’s first football game of the seasons was canceled after a student-athlete tested positive.
Midland ISD followed suit with a similar plan that included a phase-in structure to ensure the process wasn’t rushed. And while cases have been reported among staff and students, both districts say their safety measures are working, and risk has been minimized.
MISD has since announced a plan that would bring the majority of students back to the classroom while keeping the online elements in place. You can read more about that plan here.
“We also look at what is happening on our own campuses and how we are mitigating for that and we feel that we are in a place now to be able to bring those students back,” Dr. Katie Atkins, MISD Chief of Staff, said last week.
Meanwhile, ECISD appears to be sticking to their original plan, for now.
So, given the numbers and safety measures in place, is it time to send students back to school? We want to hear your thoughts. Vote in our poll and share your thoughts on our Facebook page here.