Coronavirus

Belton ISD identified the district’s first five COVID-19 infections of the school year, as Bell County surpassed 5,000 confirmed cases.

The county has now registered 5,008 known cases, while at least 4,660 individuals have reportedly recovered to date. Of the confirmed cases in Bell County, 275 of them are active — a 50-case decrease since Friday.

COVID-19 related fatalities continued to rise in Bell County on Monday after two new deaths were recorded, bringing the death toll to 73.

Belton ISD information — which can be accessed online at www.bisd.net/dashboard — showed three cases at North Belton Middle School and two cases at South Belton Middle School on Monday.

Matt Smith, Belton ISD’s superintendent, said the district has prepared for the likelihood of positive COVID-19 cases.

“This was not unexpected,” Smith said. “The identification and notification processes we put in place worked as planned because of the diligence of our staff and the support of Bell County Public Health. Those in the Big Red Community who demonstrated a commitment to shared responsibility played a key role by proactively reporting symptoms and/or positive tests.”

Smith wished those impacted by the coronavirus a speedy recovery, and offered a reminder to those in Belton ISD.

“Continue to practice good hygiene, wear masks and self-screen before arriving on campus,” Smith said.

Temple ISD did not record any new COVID-19 cases, according to the district’s seven-day dashboard.

KISD cases increase

Killeen Independent School District added a new student case at Killeen High School on Monday, as the district has now registered four student cases, since opening for in-person instruction on Aug. 31.

Killeen ISD spokeswoman Taina Maya said Bellaire Elementary in Killeen and Venable Village Elementary at Fort Hood both have one active case, while Killeen High School has two active cases.

“When there is a lab-confirmed case on any KISD property, the nurse or admin COVID Point of Contact for the campus will enter the information into the KISD COVID tracker, notify our COVID-19 cleaning team, and send a required COVID-19 notification email to parents/employees on the campus or in the working group,” Maya said. “If it is determined the individual had close contact (as defined by Texas Education Agency) with anyone, they will be isolated for 14 days.”

Maya highlighted how lab-confirmed and close-contact students will transition to remote learning while isolating.

“The district will also submit the information to TEA and the Bell County Health District,” Maya said.

Rick Beaule, president of the Killeen Educators Association, said some teachers in the district are still worried about the virus.

“There’s a lot of issues with students not wearing masks,” he said. “Student cases are starting to pop up around the 2-week mark. We’ve been consistent on this since the pandemic started. This is a dangerous thing. It doesn’t discount that students are going to struggle but safety has to come first.”

Other campuses

Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen tallied 11 positive cases since March. Seven students and four employees contributed to the university’s total, which is updated every Friday.

Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny said his district is yet to have any new cases of COVID-19. The district’s last reported cases of students or employees testing positive for the coronavirus came on Aug. 21.

“Please continue to be careful by socially distancing, wearing a mask, and avoiding large groups of people, so we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools,” Novotny said.

Bell County, whose threat level is at “level three,” will have a regional threat assessment update come Wednesday. However, the county needs to see a few improvements before the health district’s desired “level four” threat level can be reached.

The county needs to maintain a 14-day flat or decreasing trend in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to improve to earn the health district’s desired “level four” threat level. Widespread distribution of a vaccine or treatments also is necessary for a shift in the threat level, according to the Bell County Public Health District.

FME News Service contributed this report.