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Cy-Fair ISD school board approves additional desk shields for second half of semester

With more students returning for the second half of the fall semester, the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees approved the purchase of additional desk and tabletop protective dividers for protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After Trustee Tom Jackson asked about the desk shields’ effectiveness, Chief of Staff Teresa Hull said the shields have been approved by Memorial Hermann doctors collaborating with the school district and advising the district on precautionary COVID-19 measures.

“When we started looking at the number of students that we anticipated would be returning to campus, especially the second marking period, we reached out to Memorial Hermann and asked that very question,” Hull said. “They felt very strongly that that absolutely was a layer of protection; when you couple it with the mask, it definitely is helping us minimize the number students that may be identified as a close contact (during contact tracing).”

Previously, Chief Financial Officer Karen Smith said the district is working on recovering funds used on COVID-19 precautions and online learning.

“Because we didn’t have face to face (instruction) in the building there are costs we simply did not incur,” Smith said. “But if you recall we have instructional packets that we delivered. We purchased PPE when we were planning for this before COVID actually hit so bad that the schools were closed.”

Cy-Fair ISD has lost $2.2 million in revenue from food services, $16.1 million is expected to be spent from the general fund for the 2020-2021 school year, $500,000 was spent on personal protective equipment and $5.2 million for social distancing measures and more according to the presentation from Oct. 8.

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Cy-Fair COVID count rises

Gov. Greg Abbott announced in a Facebook video Wednesday he would be allowing Texas bars to reopen next week, should county governments allow them.

“It is time to open up,” Abbott said in the video. “If we continue to contain COVID, then these openings, just like other businesses, should be able to expand in the near future.”

The executive order allows for bars to open at up to 50 percent capacity, provided counties assist in enforcing health protocols. Other business establishments also had their maximum capacity increased to 75 percent under the executive order.

“Opening bars does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and most Texans are still susceptible to the virus,” Abbott said. “As bars and similar businesses begin to open, we all must remain vigilant and show personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

But Harris County won’t be allowing bars to reopen just yet.

“Indoor, maskless gatherings should not be taking place right now, and this applies to bars as well,” County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a tweet Wednesday.

Despite this expansion in capacity, the number of cases around Cy-Fair is still rising. As of 4 p.m. Friday, Harris County Public Health data shows a total of 847 active cases, an increase of nearly 100 cases since last Friday.

The number of deaths has gone up slightly in the past week as well, rising from 87 to 91 deaths.

Data was compiled using the ZIP codes in the Cypress Creek Mirror’s coverage area: 77040, 77041, 77065, 77070, 77086, 77095, 77429, and 77433. 77040 still has the highest number of cases at 242, with 77086 having the second most with 138 cases.

Testing is being offered at Klein Multipurpose Center, 7500 FM 2920, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday but closed on Friday and Sunday. Appointments are preferred but walk-ins are also accepted.

Church Without Walls, 5725 Queenston Blvd, is also offering testing from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday but closed on Friday. An appointment at either testing site can be scheduled at

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Relaxed regulations have calming effect on Cy-Fair area nursing homes

After a heart-breaking five months of isolation, seniors in area nursing homes and assisted living centers have some new options for seeing their loved ones.

At a press conference on Sept. 17, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new visitation guidance for eligible nursing homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, home and community-based service providers, and inpatient hospice effective Thursday, Sept. 24.

“I certainly applaud Gov. Abbott and the HHSC (Health and Human Services Commission) on working to reduce and relieve some of the restrictions with visitation,” said Derek Prince, CEO HMG Healthcare who manages Park Manor of CyFair.

“We value the psycho and social well-being and family relationships,” he said. “It’s been extremely trying for our patient population and our families. We’re excited to be able to put this stuff together,” he said.

With the relief comes a bit of grief as well.

“They are also burdensome and duplicitous from the guidance we received from CMS (Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services). It’s somewhat confusing at times,” he said.

“Slowly but surely we’re getting our arms around it and hopefully making a difference” the CEO said.

Prince described the visits under two categories: a regular visitor policy and an essential care worker designation.

Under the regular visitor policy, they are based on county positivity rates whether they are designated as indoor or outdoor visits. They can consist of outdoor no contact visits, open window visits, or indoor visitation with the use of plexiglass safety barriers, all attempts at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. There can be no physical contact between residents and visitors.

“Those can be scheduled by any loved one on our website with the Schedule A Visit button at an appropriate time,” he said.

The visits are allowed seven days a week and they allow for cleaning between each visit.

The potential is there for those visits to be taken away in the event of a breakout with patients or even staff.

The second category is an essential care worker designation. A resident or responsible party can designate two essential caregivers for each resident. They’re not required to adhere to social distancing. There can be contact and touch and can be in a patient’s room. Staff and other residents are still required to socially distance with the visitors.

“On the front end we have to provide training for all of the essential caregivers on facility policies and procedures regarding infection control, PPE, and hand hygiene. They still have to go through testing protocols to make sure they are safe,” Prince said.

Only one caregiver can visit a resident at a time. Some facilities place a time requirement on that from 30 minutes to an hour. Proper PPE must be used at all times during these scheduled visits, and the caregiver must test negative for COVID-19 within the previous 14 days