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PISD Health Update #3- Monday, March 16, 2020 6:00 p.m.

Posted Date: 05/26/2021

PISD Health Update #3- Monday, March 16, 2020 6:00 p.m.

As I draft this update, information is literally changing every few minutes, so please know that the information in this letter is likely to change at a rapid pace.  I appreciate the phone calls, texts, and emails that I have received from members of our community, the school district, and even from some students letting me know that they are praying for me and the other leaders in our district as we face this unprecedented situation with COVID-19.  We are truly in this together and I am comforted to know that the Pampa Community is supporting our genuine efforts as we navigate these uncharted waters.


As of today, Monday, March 16th, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Panhandle area.  We are communicating multiple times a day with numerous agencies including the Department of Health Services, Texas Education Agency, Region 16 Service Center, CDC, City of Pampa, and Gray County.  I am very appreciative of the collaborative spirit of these leaders and the efforts they are taking to keep each other informed and supported as we decipher literally thousands of emails, phone calls, and documents to discern the best course of action for our local community and schools.


The facts and data are changing so rapidly, that it is difficult to know the real facts from those spread through social media and mass media.  As of my call with the TEA and DHSH of Texas today, there are 57 confirmed cases in Texas.  The Texas Education Agency is providing guidance to support those schools still open and those who have confirmed cases in and around them that have closed.  For now, Pampa Schools are scheduled to return on March 23rd.  Please know that there will be operational changes made that will influence the flow of visitors and guests in and around our schools.  We will communicate these to all of our families soon.


Update on cancellations/postponed events etc. as a result of our efforts in social distancing as recommended by state and federal agencies:


  • PHS Band Trip to New York City has been postponed. The dates and details have not yet been finalized. Mr. Benton will send information to those scheduled to travel through his normal communication methods.
  • UIL- The University Interscholastic League posted earlier today that all events including practices and rehearsals that occur outside of the school day are to be canceled. Students involved in these activities will receive information from their coaches/directors soon.
  • Any banquets, awards ceremonies, assemblies, etc. that involve large groups of parents, guests, or visitors have been canceled and/or postponed until further notice. We simply do not know the full impact COVID-19 will have in our area. Our decisions will change as we have new information and data.
  • STAAR Testing---As you may have heard, Gov. Abbott announced that he is waiving STAAR testing in Texas. There were many details left out of the social media and mass media posts. During a call today, we were informed by the Governor and the Commissioner of TEA that they are requesting a waiver from the US Dept. Of Education (ESSA) to waive the testing requirements for this year. They feel confident that the waiver will be approved, but have not received that approval yet. So.. for now…we wait on this assurance. As for Pampa ISD, we do know that the Governor of Texas will not hold us accountable for any outcomes from testing or not testing at this time. We do not know yet if we will be administering some parts of the STARR assessments. That will largely depend on the federal waiver and the conditions of our community at the time of each testing window. We do know that we will NOT administer the 5th and 8th grade first round of reading and math STAAR and will not likely administer the 4th and 7th writing assessments since those are Texas-required exams and not required by the federal government. It is unlikely that we would administer any STAAR assessments, but until we receive full and final guidance and waivers, we must be in a holding pattern. Regardless, testing is not our priority and is not something we need to be wasting our energy on at this time. Our primary goal is to use the information we have to make the very best decisions for the continuity of learning and services for our students, families, and our staff.”

We are gathering data multiple times a day and referencing state and federal guidance documents to aid us in our decision-making on whether or not to continue classes as scheduled or close our schools.  Numerous factors are considered when closing schools in these situations and all are within a local context.  Our leadership teams and emergency crisis teams are referencing our response plans and preparing for multiple scenarios.


We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we consider all of the data and work to make the very best decisions for all of our students in Pampa schools.  We have several conference calls tomorrow and will provide our stakeholders with another update at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, March 17th.  We thank you for your continued prayers for us all and for those impacted by COVID-19 in Texas and around the world.


Dr. Tanya Larkin, Superintendent


Visit the Pampa ISD Health Updates page Pampa ISD Health Updates


Published on 03/16/2020

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