RSIZ prepares for COVID-19 student, staff illness for upcoming school year

Staff Writer
Alice Echo News Journal

The Rural School Innovation Zone (RSIZ) was kicked off with the start of the 2019-2020 school year for Premont, Freer and Falfurrias Independent School Districts. However, with coronavirus (COVID-19) and the upcoming school year, administrators are preparing for the unexpected.

The RSIZ is a first-of-its-kind partnership of the three rural school districts in South Texas. Structured as a non-profit organization, the RSIZ is designed as a sustainable collaborative, launching with three participating high schools and one junior high with the potential for expansion.

The zone approach allows campuses in the RSIZ to collaborate on rural challenges and development regionally specific solutions, provides students with access and transportation to course work and teachers they otherwise would not have had access to, promotes collaboration and innovation leading to stronger results, and is a financially and politically sustainable entity.

RSIZ has added an addendum to the response, recover and redesign plan that serves as a guide for the zone should a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19 on any of the RSIZ campuses.

The districts will take action when some gets sick. Actions include:

* Notification requirement for staff and students regarding home isolation criteria

* Isolate and transport those who are sick

* Clean and disinfect

* Notify health officials and close contacts

Administrators have a checklist they will follow that follows the Center for Disease and Prevention guidelines as schools are important partners in protecting the public’s health and safety when a pandemic occurs.

Premont and Falfurrias ISD will start the new school year on Aug. 3. Freer ISD will start on Aug. 26.