Fort Worth ISD

Fort Worth ISD Deep Cleans Schools Before Students Return for Spring Semester

District to sanitize schools, buses, daily as long as is needed, officials say

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In preparation for students and staff to return from winter break, schools across Fort Worth ISD were deep cleaned Tuesday amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The cleaning protocols, including the sanitizing of high-traffic areas and use of a hospital-grade spray cleaner to help with disinfection of non-hard surfaces and air, have been in place since the pandemic began.

Schools and buses are cleaned every day, according to FWISD Chief of District Operations Joseph Coburn, who said those protocols will remain in place as needed.

“I wish we knew exactly what to expect in the next few weeks. I think we’re all expecting the unexpected. The entire operations division, they are ready,” Coburn said. “One of the things that we have stressed, our response to COVID 19 and safety as you see the numbers doing what they’re doing, is our top priority.”

Students and staff will return on Wednesday amid a rise in COVID-19 cases across the county. According to a report Tuesday from Tarrant County Public Health, the county’s positivity rate is now 35%, meaning more than 1 in every 3 people tested for COVID-19 are confirmed positive, TCPH Director Vinny Taneja said Tuesday.

“That’s a huge number in our community,” Taneja said. “We’re starting to see that add up on our case counts. I think today, we reported 2,200. I think we’re just going to go higher from here.”

Fort Worth’s 74,000 students will return to the classrooms Wednesday after winter break. NBC 5’s Lili Zheng reports on the efforts to get ready, including deep-cleaning classrooms, even as cases of COVID-19 rise.

Taneja also noted, the county’s ‘R-0’ number which measures new infections that result from a single case of a virus, is at a pandemic high of 1.62.

“That means one person that is sick, in simplest terms ... we’re making 1.62 people ill through contact. That’s a huge number. That’s just a rapid spread in the community,” he said.

In response to an uptick in cases, Lancaster ISD announced late last week students would not return to in-person this week as planned. Instead, they will attend school virtual beginning Wednesday and through Friday.

Asked whether Fort Worth ISD had any plans to pivot from in-person learning, spokesperson Claudia Garibay said Tuesday the plan right now is to move forward with in-person instruction.

Garibay also noted the situation was “fluid and flexible.”

On Tuesday, more PPE was delivered to Fort Worth schools including masks and hand sanitizers. Though not mandated, the district said masks are strongly encouraged.

“You know how kiddos, they will remove their mask. They will lose them, or they will tear them. So, we want to make sure there is plenty of PPE masks, hand sanitizers available for all students,” she said.

The leader of the United Educators Association, which represents Fort Worth teachers, said he wonders how schools will remain open.

“I'm just worried about the disruption in the schools because of lack of staff or the enrollment numbers because students are having to quarantine,” Steven Poole said. “Teachers are really excited to see their kids back but they're also really worried because of the surge in COVID Omicron cases."

About 74,000 students are enrolled within Fort Worth ISD.

NBC 5's Scott Gordon contributed to this report.

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