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By Tony Farkas
APPLE SPRINGS — With area schools closing at the beginning of the school year because of COVID outbreaks, the Apple Springs ISD Board of Trustees discussed changes to policies for leave and closings.
Superintendent Dr. Cody Moree said the school has been given funds for testing supplies, but at this time has not been testing. He also said that school only has authority to test staff, as testing students requires parental consent.
The district had been sent 200 rapid test kits at the beginning of the year, but all were expired.
“There’s your tax dollars at work,” he said.
At this time, there are no new regulations from the Texas Educators Association, Moree said.
Currently, there are three confirmed student cases of COVID, all of which are at home recuperating, and Moree said that hopefully cases don’t become widespread through the student body or faculty.
“Losing staff would cause us to have to close faster,” he said. “We don’t have any of our staff out currently, so we consider ourselves blessed.”
Additionally, the state is sticking to its guidelines and not making exceptions for employees that test positive since federal aid that paid for time off in COVID cases has ended. Moree said that means that the employees will need to use their personal time off.
Moree said he would like to ask the board to continue the COVID time off policy that was in place last year.
This would affect employees that have been diagnosed with the virus, not those who may have been exposed to it, he said.
The board approved the measure unanimously.
In other business, the board:
By Tony Farkas
TRINITY — The situation in Afghanistan has left the United States less safe, as well as seen as an unreliable partner to its allies around the world, according to U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.
Brady held an informal roundtable discussion at the Trinity Peninsular Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday in Trinity.
“For a country as great as ours, this is a shame, and this is a day that will live in infamy, the day we surrendered to the Taliban,” Brady said. “We betrayed our allies, both locally and internationally, we left Americans behind. Russia and China are cheering this, as we just gave them a foothold here. There was no reason, or no political boast that was worth this.
Brady said that while there was no question the U.S. needed to end its presence in Afghanistan, how it happened was questionable.
“At the end of the day, I feel as a country we are less safe,” he said.
Brady also took the Biden administration to task for its handling of COVID and the economy.
“It’s stunning how hard it’s been for our businesses to survive in the last year and a half,” he said. “We did some good things, such as the PPP loans, but 2021 has been very bumpy, and job growth has slowed down. Part of the reason is employers can’t find workers. Not just retail, but all up and down the chain. I worry that not only is that slowing recovery, but it’s driving inflation.”
Brady did tout the efforts of Texans, saying that it was one of the first states reopening after the COVID shutdowns, and it did that safely and responsibly.
“There are still parts of the country where they’re still debating whether to open schools that have been closed for 1 ½ years,” he said.
He also said that four in 10 people were making more income staying home than working, and even though the federal money ended recently, states have the ability to continue the program.
“I’m worried there are more barriers to working, such as the child tax credit; we doubled it, but this new emergency credit expanded it more and also said people don’t have to work to claim it,” Brady said. “It may become permanent, and it has hit the restaurant industry hard. Additionally, the government blew the roof of off Affordable Care Act subsidies, and gave it to everyone, so that means that you can get better health care by not working.”
Permanent spending in connection with the COVID pandemic will cripple the economy by causing people not to work. Brady said that so far, for an average family of four, with parents working, Congress has approved $26,000 in stimulus. For the same family with one parent losing a job, the government has provided $67,000; and with both parents needing help, $109,000.
“That’s why people aren’t going to work,” he said.
Additionally, Brady said he is worried about the war on energy. Aside from closing pipelines and denying drilling permits, there are proposals for about $145 billion in new taxes on oil and gas, he said.
Brady said that instead of killing oil and gas through taxes, bring affordable energy come to Texas, where technology innovation is ahead of the curve.
Brady also touched on other topics such as education curriculum, media bias, China and the IRS.
TRINITY — The Trinity County Sheriff’s Department labored over the weekend investigating a shooting and complaints about drug use and manufacturing.
Sheriff Woody Wallace said that on Sept. 2, a man was shot three times after three men began shooting at each other on Camp Branch Road east of Trinity.
Wallace said on Facebook that they found the victim, whose name has not yet been released, at a house that reportedly is connected with methamphetamine use.
The victim was Lifeflighted to a hospital for treatment. The other people involved in the shooting have not yet been identified, as the investigation is continuing.
Following the shooting reports led law enforcement officials to a complaint of suspicious activity in four homes in the 100, 200 and 300 blocks of Cherry Creek in the Lake L subdivision.
Wallace said that officials found four houses with large-scale marijuana growing operations.
The homes had been equipped with special air conditioning, water equipment and lighting, along with CO2 canisters, which reportedly will increase the THC content of the marijuana.
The homes, equipment and contents have been seized, and six people were taken into custody:
Wallace said the suspects were mostly from Cuba or Mexico, and many may not be in the country legally.
More information will be available as the investigation continues.
Special to the News-Standard
GROVETON — All Groveton ISD campuses were closed Friday based upon the number of students and staff members who were ill, showing symptoms, and testing positive for COVID-19.
The facilities will remain closed until Tuesday, Sept. 7.
According to a letter to students and faculty from incoming Superintendent Jim Dillard, GISD had only 12 students and two employees who tested positive for COVID-19 during the first full week of instruction.
However, in the second week, the numbers of cases increased by more than four times that amount.
Dillard wrote that the action is an inconvenience for many people, but the number of positive cases indicates that action must be taken, as the health and safety of students and staff are of utmost importance.
The 10-day period will allow infected individuals time to self-quarantine and recover, while allowing the cleaning staff an opportunity to deep clean the facilities.
Additionally, no remote instruction will be provided by the district during this closure as we are waiting on further guidance for viable remote learning options. All extracurricular activities, games, and practices will be cancelled until 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 6.
At that time sponsors, directors, and coaches may resume practices to prepare for their weekly competitions and performances.
Dillard wrote that the school calendar will not be altered unless additional instances occur that require campuses to close.
Please understand that this decision was not taken lightly but was made out of necessity to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the school district.
More information may be obtained by the school Facebook page or the school website at www.grovetonisd.net. During this temporary closure, Dillard said parents and guardians were encouraged to monitor children’s health and contact the school offices at (936) 642-1473 if you have any questions, as some staff members will be on hand to answer your call.