By Tracy R. Mesler
© 2020 The Nocona News
Lab tests were negative for Coronavirus for the first patient to presented themselves to Nocona General Hospital for testing.
Meanwhile, as Nocona schools released an hour early Friday for spring break, school officials and parents will anxiously await the results of a second test – one that could impact several hundred students and faculty.
Lance Meekins, NGH CEO, reported the good news on the first test late Friday afternoonfrom the state laboratory in Fort Worth.
The patient, who was not from Montague County, presented themselves to NGH Thursday morning with symptoms meeting the testing protocol established by the Center for Disease Control.
It may be two to five days before NGH learns the results of the second test, which was collected Friday.
“At approximately 10:30 am today, March 13, Nocona Medical Clinic physicians notified us that a relative of an NISD student had travel related exposure to the coronavirus. The relative has an appointment to be tested by a medical professional but a positive diagnosis has NOT been confirmed. The relative has a student at Nocona High School. The student was immediately removed from the classroom.
“The entire Nocona High School campus will be disinfected following dismissal.
“As a district we value the safety of our students and staff and are appreciative of the quick notification from the Nocona Medical Clinic in this situation.
“NISD will continue to monitor the situation and will stay abreast of updates from the CDC regarding further action.
“We sheltered our students in place to not risk further possible exposure. If you would like your student to leave school early, please notify the office as we cannot release students without parental consent.
“At this time, nothing has been confirmed. We will update you further as the situation develops,” the state concluded.
“I’m letting people know as soon as I know,” NISD Supt. Dr. David Waters said.
Initially, NHS administrators had all students “remain in place” in their classrooms while the student was separated and sent home to self-quarantine to await the results of tests on her aunt.
All NISD schools had already been scheduled to release at noon for Spring Break, but rather than have words leak out and cause panic amongst the parents, NISD released the following statement:
A number of parents took advantage of the notice and picked their children up an hour early.
“Middle school parents are picking their kids up,” Dr. Waters observed while standing outside the high school, looking past the Middle School Gym to where cars were lined up. “I don’t blame them. They’re in the band (hall), in the library,” he said gesturing towards the high school, “they share spaces.”
The superintendent said as he understood it a woman had been visiting her husband in Italy where he was in the service returning to the United States shortly before Italy instituted a nationwide quarantine on March 9. She was tested in Italy and was cleared to travel, and then tested again in the United States, before visiting relatives in Nocona which included a Nocona High School student.
When the woman contacted NGH about being tested, physicians immediately notified the school of the situation leading to Friday morning’s announcement.
“They don’t teach this in superintendent’s school,” Dr. Waters said outside NHS as he watched concerned parents pick up their children.
Joint Statement by county’s schools
Earlier Friday the superintendents of the seven schools in Montague County issued a joint statement assuring the public that the districts were implementing a robust cleaning program during the break as well as instituting additional protocols to be followed once classes resume.
Both Meekins and Waters said they would continue to monitor the situation and post any changes or announces on their respective Facebook pages as well as on the Nocona News Facebook page.
School athletic events effected
The University Interscholastic League stopped the boys’ state basketball championships.
All school sponsored athletic events previously scheduled for spring break have been cancelled by Nocona ISD. Athletes were instructed to contact their individual coaches regarding practice.
Additionally, UIL issued a press release, “To support the health and safety of our students and communities, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) is suspending all UIL sanctioned contests due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Texas. Effective March 16, all UIL interscholastic competition is suspended through March 29.
“Rehearsals and practices may be held at the discretion of the local school district.
“We are urging our member schools and their communities to stay vigilant and take every possible precaution to remain safe and healthy,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “We understand there is a lot of uncertainty during this unprecedented time. Please know UIL leadership is working diligently to adjust to this rapidly evolving situation and will share updates as soon as possible.”
“As this is a fluid situation, the UIL will continue to follow the direction of state and local officials to monitor this situation and will make additional announcements as needed. Please continue to check the UIL website and social media accounts for further updates.”