• December 3, 2020
 El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from March 13 thru 15th

Corona virus | Graphic courtesy CDC

El Paso-area Coronavirus Archive Stories from March 13 thru 15th

This archive page of our El Paso-area Coronavirus Information has releases and information from March 13 thru 15th.

For the most recent health developments on COVID-19, please visit our up-to-the-minute page; for official info, click below.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)   |   World Health Organization    |    City of El Paso Department of Public Health

***ARCHIVE CONTENT FOLLOWS***

Burrell College Moves All Student Courses Online  in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic(3/15/2020)

Out of an abundance of caution for the welfare of students and employees, the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine is making significant changes to its learning environment.

Beginning Monday, March 30, all medical student education courses will be delivered virtually via live streaming and archived video. All in-person laboratory sessions, such as anatomy labs and standardized patient labs, have been cancelled until further notice and any needed exams will be delivered online using remote testing services. Clinical rotations will continue uninterrupted or accommodated specific to the rotation location.

Effective immediately, all non-essential faculty and staff are being identified on a case-by-case basis and will work remotely if their jobs are conducive to telecommuting.

“The health and wellness of our students and employees is our top priority,” says John Hummer, president of Burrell College. “In light of current public health concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are implementing these plans to minimize the risk of transmission and infection.”

The Burrell College is closely monitoring guidance from the New Mexico Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the medical education accrediting agencies. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, additional changes to the work and learning environments may be needed.

Updates and alerts from the college regarding the COVID-19 response effort can be accessed at the following website. This website is being updated around the clock; faculty, staff and students are encouraged to visit the site as often as possible.

***

*** Socorro ISD Superintendent declares emergency shutdown of district   (3/15/2020)

Jose Espinoza, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools for Socorro ISD issued the following statement:

#TeamSISD: I am declaring an emergency shutdown of our entire district in which only staff with critical functions in district report to work until further notice.

Read below:

***

***City Health Officials announce second presumptive case of Coronavirus in El Paso (3/15/2020)

This afternoon the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the second presumptive positive test result for COVID-19 in El Paso County.

The male patient in his 40s is hospitalized. With the epidemiological investigation still in its early phase, it is not known at this time if the man has a history of travel outside out region. Results of that investigation will be used to identify any close contacts who may have been exposed by the patient and if any further testing of close contacts needs to take place.

“News of this case came to us less than an hour before a press conference that had been scheduled days prior,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director. “This is just an example of how quickly things can change when it comes to this virus and our willingness as public servants to provide accurate information to the public as swiftly as possible.”

The public is reminded that COVID-19 is not an airborne disease and is spread primarily via coughs and sneezes of those already infected. Preliminary information about COVID-19 shows that about 80 percent of cases are mild and most people do not need hospitalization. However, older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications.

DPH officials continue to urge residents to stay up-to-date with the latest information by subscribing to both the City and DPH social media platforms, and to visit www.EPHealth.com or www.EPSalud.com for updates.

Additionally the 2-1-1 Texas Information and Referral Center is available 24/7. Callers can dial 2-1-1 and select option 6 for more information.

Community Leaders to Provide Update on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Posted by City of El Paso, Texas – Municipal Government on Sunday, March 15, 2020

***

*** EPISD expands number of locations that will offer free meals to students during emergency preparedness closure (3/15/2020)

Fifty El Paso Independent School District campuses will be serving free breakfast and lunch during the upcoming emergency preparedness week on March 23-27 while the District is closed in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak in the region.

Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. during that week. All meals are take-home only. There will be no dinning in the cafeterias.

Meals are for all children ages 1 to 18 regardless of their enrollment status with the District.  Meals will be served at the following schools:

• Bowie High, 801 S. San Marcial
• Chapin High, 7000 Dyer
• Andress High, 5400 Sun Valley
• Franklin High, 900 N. Resler
• Irvin High, 9465 Roanoke
• El Paso High, 800 E. Schuster
• Henderson Middle, 5505 Robert Alva
• Morehead Middle, 5625 Confetti
• MacArthur Intermediate, 8101 Whitus
• Armendariz Middle, 2231 Arizona
• Ross Middle, 6101 Hughey
• Bassett Middle, 4400 Elm
• Terrace Hills Middle, 4835 Blossom
• Guillen Middle, 900 S. Cotton
• Roberts Elementary, 341 Thorn
• Coldwell Elementary, 4101 Altura
• Lee Elementary, 7710 Pandora
• Stanton Elementary, 5414 Hondo Pass
• Tom Lea Elementary, 4851Marcus Uribe

• Putnam Elementary, 6508 Fiesta

• Hillside Elementary, 4500 Clifton
• Hawkins Elementary, 5816 Stephenson

The District has added the following schools as pick-up sites for take-home breakfast and lunch during the emergency preparedness weeks:

• Barron Elementary, 11155 Whitey Ford
• Bonham Elementary,7024 Cielo Vista
• Brown Middle, 7820 Helen of Troy
• Clardy Elementary, 5508 Delta
• Cooley Elementary, 107 N. Collingsworth
• Guerrero Elementary, 7530 Lakehurst
• Herrera Elementary, 350 Coates
• Mesita ECDC, 220 Lawton
• Moreno Elementary, 2300 San Diego
• Park Elementary, 3601 Edgar Park
• Rivera Elementary, 6445 Escondido
• Ross Middle, 6101 Hughey
• Whitaker Elementary, 4700 Rutherford
• Wiggs Middle, 1300 Circle
• Aoy Elementary, 901 S. Campbell
• Austin High, 3500 Memphis
• Canyon Hills Middle, 8930 Eclipse
• Charles Middle, 4909 Trojan
• Crockett Elementary, 3200 Wheeling
• Fannin Elementary, 5425 Salem
• Green Elementary, 5430 Buckley
• Kohlberg Elementary, 1445 Nardo Goodman
• Logan Elementary, 3200 Ellerthorpe
• Magoffin Middle, 4931 Hercules
• Nixon Elementary, 11141 Loma Roja
• Rusk Elementary, 3601 N. Copia
• Travis Elementary, 5000 N. Stevens
• Zach White Elementary, 4256 Roxbury

The City of El Paso’s Department of Public Health on Saturday released guidelines for school districts in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). Those guidelines stated that all school districts should cancel classes until April 6.

EPISD previously had made the proactive decision for an extended closure. Given the new guidelines from the health department, the District will extend the closure until April 6.

The weeks of March 23-27 and March 30 to April 3 have been declared Emergency Preparedness Weeks in EPISD. All staff will be on duty. We are using the first week to prepare distance learning for students and professional development for staff.

We will continue to provide updated information to the EPISD community as it becomes available.

Questions regarding the closures can be sent to the District via the Let’s Talk portal at episd.org. To access it, click on the “Contact Us” tab on the main page of the website.

***

***Ysleta ISD extends school closures thru April 6th (3/15/2020)

The El Paso Department of Public Health has recommended all school districts to close schools until April 6. The Ysleta Independent School District will follow this recommendation.

Ysleta ISD will continue its preventive measures, planning efforts, and communication with parents and community as more information becomes available.

***Fabens ISD extends district closure thru April 6th; District will provide pick-up meals. (3/15/2020)

As per the public health officials advice, Fabens ISD will be closed until April 3 students return on Monday, April 6.

Students should remain at home and return to school on Monday, April 6.

For the week of March 23-27, and March 30- April 3, breakfast and lunch will be provided to all students and children 18 years old and younger. Meals can be picked up at the Fabens High School cafeteria from 7:30 – 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM.

***

***San Elizario ISD extends district closure through April 3rd (3/15/2020)

DPS provided information that makes it necessary for the SEISD to EXTEND the closure status from the original March 23rd to March 27th to INCLUDE March 30th to April 3rd.

Please keep in mind that the official Spring Break is March 16 through March 20, 2020.

***

***Tornillo ISD extends school closure thru April 6th

Tornillo ISD has extended an additional week of emergency preparedness following the already scheduled Spring Break due to recent guidance from our local Health Department.  Spring Break is March 16th-20th   (Staff and Students) and the emergency preparedness week extension will run from March 23rd – April 3rd. (students only)

Child Nutrition Program will be in operation March 23rd – April 3rd   (meal schedules and locations will be provided next week)

Students will return to school on Monday, April 6th and will be following regular bell schedule.

***

***Sunland Park to close for 3 weeks; 17th running of the Sunland Derby Cancelled (3/15/2020)

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino has announced that the entire facility will be closed to the public for three weeks beginning Monday, March 16, at 1 a.m. This decision was made after high-level discussions between Sunland Park management, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico Racing Commission, and the state’s Gaming Control Board. Today’s decision also means that next weekend’s Sunland Derby and Sunland Park Oaks horse races will not take place as scheduled.

“Although there have been no known cases of the COVID-19 at the property, we are suspending operations out of an abundance of caution and to promote social distancing,” said Director of Marketing for Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino, Ethan Linder.

During the closure, Sunland Park management will work with the New Mexico Health Department to implement additional protocols to protect guests prior to the reopening of the facility.

“For 60 years, Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino has provided non-stop entertainment for the local community,” said Linder. “We have always promised great customer service, world-class horse racing, and a drive to be good partners with our local community as well as the horse racing world. It’s that promise that guides us as we face this difficult challenge of responding to the coronavirus.”

Linder added that, “Our hearts go out to the people who have been affected by these unprecedented events. We appreciate the healthcare workers, local community officials, and governments around the world who are working on the front lines.”

“The governors office has asked the Sunland Derby for the safety and welfare of the general public and staff as well as the city of El Paso and Sunland Park Ceased operations for two to three weeks. The governor wants to get ahead of the curve and reduce the bell curve” – per general manager Rich Baugh

Baugh also said, “ we haven’t worked through all the particulars , but the track will allow the horsemen to continue training here. With that being said there is no definitive time line for closure yet, but it might soon.”

***

***EPISD to extend emergency preparedness closure of schools, operations to April 6 (3/15/2020)

The City of El Paso’s Department of Public Health on Saturday released guidelines for school districts in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). Those guidelines stated that all school districts should cancel classes until April 6.

EPISD previously had made the proactive decision for an extended closure. Given the new guidelines from the health department, the District will extend the closure until April 6.

The weeks of March 23-27 and March 30 to April 3 have been declared Emergency Preparedness Weeks in EPISD. All staff will be on duty. We are using the first week to prepare distance learning for students and professional development for staff.

We also are expanding the number of school sites that will be offering take-home meals for students during the closure to 50 campuses, to be announced later. Meals will be offered at these sites on March 23-27 and March 30-April 6. It is a priority for EPISD that all students have access to healthful meals as well as learning opportunities during the school closures.

We will continue to provide updated information to the EPISD community as it becomes available.

Questions regarding the closures can be sent to the District via the Let’s Talk portal at episd.org. To access it, click on the “Contact Us” tab on the main page of the website.

***

*** Statement about Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare visitor restrictions (3/15/2020)

Statement from Del Sol Medical Center CEO David Shimp and Las Palmas Medical Center CEO Don Karl about Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare’s visitor restrictions.

“Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare remains focused on preparedness and response efforts related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For the safety of our patients, visitors, physicians, colleagues and community, along with hospitals across the country, we have implemented visitor restrictions within all Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare facilities to control the spread of the virus. These changes are necessary given the recent presumptive positive case in our community.

At this time, visiting hours are restricted to the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and we will allow only one adult visitor per patient in the building at a time during these hours. All visitors must be 18 years of age or older. One person may remain overnight with a patient in select areas of the hospital only, including pediatrics, neonatal ICU (NICU), and labor and delivery.

We continue to screen everyone entering our facilities. If a visitor doesn’t pass the entrance screening, they are not allowed in the facility. Exceptions may be granted by hospital leadership for extraordinary circumstances, with additional precautions implemented.

The health and safety of our patients and caregivers are our top priority, and we will continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure we are able to safely care for our community.”

***

***Health Officials Provide School Districts with Coronavirus Guidance for Students, Faculty (3/14/2020)

On Saturday, health and area school district officials met to discuss ongoing preventative measures to reduce the risk of spreading the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Health officials provided the districts a summary of COVID-19 as well as preventative measures that should be shared and implemented with their students, faculty and staff.

Below are the recommendations given to the school districts as of today, Saturday, March 14:

  • School districts directed to have students return from Spring Break on April 6, 2020.
  • Children with special healthcare needs should not return to school during the current school year.
  • All students, faculty and staff with travel history of less than 14 days will have to stay home for 14 days before returning to school and only if they are asymptomatic.
  • Children with influenza-like symptoms will be sent home by a school nurse; and they may return when they do not have fever for more than 24 hours and no cough.
  • All school districts are directed to cancel mass gatherings/events, to include but not limited to sports, commencement ceremonies, concerts, etc.
  • All schools are directed to collect information on a daily basis on absenteeism due to influenza-like illness (by grade and school); starting on the first day the students return from Spring Break.
  • All schools are directed to promote and implement effective hygiene activity among students and personnel, teaching them proper handwashing, cough etiquette, cleaning of working surfaces and social distancing.
  • All schools are directed to stagger lunch hours to prevent large gatherings in the cafeteria.

Factors to consider for temporary school dismissal: (Considered on a case-by-case basis)

  • Presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in a school
  • Community-wide spread of the virus
  • Impact to our community

***

*** Ysleta ISD sends message on employee compensation during mandatory closure (3/14/2020)

Pursuant to Board Policy DEA (Local), the YISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution to ensure all full-time non-exempt employees are paid during the mandatory closure. As such, full-time hourly employees will be allotted additional leave days, solely for use during the mandatory closure time due to COVID-19, to ensure they are compensated.

Non-exempt employees deemed as essential personnel that are required to work during the mandatory closure beginning on March 23, 2020, will be paid time and a half of their current hourly rate.

Part-time district employees interested in assisting in sanitizing district properties can report to the YISD Service Center located at 7944 Yermoland on Monday, March 23, 2020 at 7:00 a.m.

In addition, those part-time employees that would like to supply food at the sites specified for drive by breakfast and lunch, please report to the designated campus no later 7:00 a.m. Please note, this option is on a first come first serve basis and neither option is mandatory but available for those that are interested.

***

*** Walmart to adjust hours to help clean, restock stores for customers (3/14/2020)

By Dacona Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Walmart U.S.

I could not be prouder of our associates and what they continue to accomplish for our customers. I don’t think any of us have been through an experience like this, and we continue to be amazed at what our people, whether in the stores or in the supply chain, are doing to make sure customers have what they need.

To better support our associates and serve our customers, we will adjust our operating hours beginning Sunday, March 15. Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice.

This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing. Stores currently operating under more reduced hours (for example they regularly close at 10 p.m. or open at 7 a.m.) will keep their current hours of operation.

As we make this change, associates will continue to work the hours and shifts they are scheduled, and our supply chain and trucking fleet will continue to move products and deliver to stores on their regular schedules.

As a reminder, we have a temporary COVID-19 emergency leave policy to support associates at this unprecedented time.

To our associates, thank you for your incredible work during this time. I know it hasn’t always been easy, but your entire Walmart family is so proud of what you are doing and the important difference you are making, both for your neighbors and for your country.

***

***Department of Public Health (DPH) Education Taskforce deployed across the region this afternoon (3/14/2020)

More than half a dozen teams consisting of two educators visited local shopping centers, malls, and public transportation hubs.

The proactive approach comes less than a day after the Public Health Laboratory confirmed the first presumptive positive case of Novel Coronavirus in El Paso County.

“This is a small part of the larger plan we’ve been talking about for weeks, and a presumptive positive case was the trigger to be proactive in education and calming fears,” said Public Health Director Robert Resendes.

Specially trained health educators will be answering questions and providing printed literature to help reduce the stress and anxiety being experienced by residents who are emptying grocery shelves despite recommendations to focus on self-care and monitoring. Hoarding cleaning products and dry goods is creating undue stress.

Area residents should heed the advice to shop as they would before the pandemic was declared.

DPH officials continue to urge residents to stay up-to-date with the latest information by following the City and DPH on Facebook and Twitter and by visiting www.EPHealth.com or www.EPSalud.com for updates.

Additionally, the 2-1-1 Texas information and Referral Center is available 24/7. Callers can dial 211 and select option 1 for more information.

***

*** EPISD announces take home meal sites for breakfast and lunch schedules for March 23-27th (3/14/2020)

Twenty-two El Paso Independent School District campuses will be serving free breakfast and lunch during the upcoming emergency preparedness week on March 23-27 while the District is closed in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak in the region.

Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. during that week. All meals are take-home only. There will be no dinning in the cafeterias.

Meals are for all children ages 1 to 18 regardless of their enrollment status with the District.

Meals will be served at the following schools:

• Bowie High, 801 S. San Marcial
• Chapin High, 7000 Dyer
• Andress High, 5400 Sun Valley
• Franklin High, 900 N. Resler
• Irvin High, 9465 Roanoke
• El Paso High, 800 E. Schuster
• Henderson Middle, 5505 Robert Alva
• Morehead Middle, 5625 Confetti
• MacArthur Intermediate, 8101 Whitus
• Armendariz Middle, 2231 Arizona
• Ross Middle, 6101 Hughey
• Bassett Middle, 4400 Elm
• Terrace Hills Middle, 4835 Blossom
• Guillen Middle, 900 S. Cotton
• Roberts Elementary, 341 Thorn
• Coldwell Elementary, 4101 Altura
• Lee Elementary, 7710 Pandora
• Stanton Elementary, 5414 Hondo Pass
• Tom Lea Elementary, 4851Marcus Uribe
• Putnam Elementary, 6508 Fiesta
• Hillside Elementary, 4500 Clifton
• Hawkins Elementary, 5816 Stephenson

***

***IDEA to provide breakfast, lunch to students, family & staff; childcare also available for parents working in essential fields  (3/14/2020)

We will be providing breakfast and lunch for IDEA students, families and staff who need food at all schools, beginning March 23.

While our schools are closed, we will also provide free weekday childcare at specific campuses for IDEA parents working in jobs essential to community health and safety, including health care workers and first responders, and other essential personnel.

IDEA El Paso has also compiled an online guide for help; to view, click here.

***

***Texas Tech University Health Science Center El Paso Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Update  (3/14/2020)

On Friday evening, March 13, El Paso health officials reported the first person infected with COVID-19 in our city. We are working closely with public health officials to gather as much available information as possible.

Due to the recent update from El Paso health officials, and in an effort to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in our area, we will implement the following actions:

  • Classes for all schools – the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences – will be canceled from March 17 through March 20. Students are not to report to campus. Instruction will continue via distance education/online delivery on Monday, March 23. Deans and faculty will contact students with more details.
  • Faculty from all three schools will be utilizing the week to finalize procedures to begin distance education/online delivery on Monday, March 23, 2020 until further notice. On-campus student education (e.g. labs, simulation instruction, etc.) are discouraged and will only be allowed if there are no reasonable alternatives.
  • Clinical rotations will continue for third- and fourth-year Foster School of Medicine students as well as students from the Hunt School of Nursing.
  • Clinical personnel will remain on duty at clinical sites.
  • Faculty and staff on duty can continue to go to campus as long as there is “no increased risk relative to the general population.” Telecommuting options by all department heads should be seriously considered and in the coming days, implementing procedures to facilitate telecommuting should be of top priority. Essential staff is expected to remain on duty on campus unless otherwise directed by the Dean or VP.
  • Faculty and staff who continue to come to campus will adhere to social distancing protocols (e.g. no large group gatherings, reminders about hygiene, etc.)

For more information, please visit ttuhscep.edu/coronavirus.

***

***City of El Paso Friday night confirmed the first presumptive case of Coronavirus in the area. (3/13/2020)

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the first presumptive positive test result for COVID-19 in the area. The male patient in his 40’s who has history of recent domestic travel. He is now recovering at home.

The test was performed at the City of El Paso Department of Public Health Laboratory. DPH epidemiology staff is identifying any close contacts of the patient while he was sick so they can be closely monitored for symptoms.

Preliminary information about COVID-19 shows that about 80 percent of cases are mild and most people do not need hospitalization.

However, older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications.

“It is important that our community realize that the COVID-19 virus is not an airborne disease and it requires a mode of transmission such as a cough or sneeze,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority.

“The Department of Public Health and our partnering agencies in West Texas have been preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 since it was first identified in China and began spreading to other countries. Planning has been going on continuously for laboratory testing, public health investigation and isolation and care for people who test positive.”

DPH officials continue to urge residents to stay up-to-date with the latest information by subscribing to both the City and DPH social media platforms, and to visit www.EPHealth.com or www.EPSalud.com for updates.

Additionally the 2-1-1 Texas Information and Referral Center is available 24/7. Callers can dial 2-1-1 and select option 1 for more information.

***

***El Paso Municipal Court – Hearings set for Downtown EP cancelled, reset.

Hearings scheduled Downtown at 810 E. Overland during March 16 through March 20, 2020 will be cancelled and reset. Notices will be mailed out once a new hearing is set.

Northeast Hearings scheduled at 9600 Dyer will remain as scheduled. The court encourages individuals to utilize the video arraignment option at 10780-A Pebble Hills, 4801 Osborne or 9011 Escobar to speak with the Northeast Judge.

Municipal Court Jury Trials scheduled for March 26 and 27, 2020 are cancelled.

All Municipal Court activities to include Juvenile Case Management Classes, Youth Delinquency Prevention Classes, and Teen Court will be suspended for the month of March.

For questions call 915-212-0215.

***

***President Trump declares National Emergency (3/13/2020)

Speaking from the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon that he is declaring the Coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.

“I am officially declaring a national emergency.” Adding that emergency declaration would open up $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.

The President also said that Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar would be granted emergency authority to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients.

Watch the President’s full news conference via this link.

***

***Texas governor declares statewide emergency (3/13/2020)

Texas governor declares statewide emergency, says state will soon be able to test thousands (via The Texas Tribune)

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday declared that the new coronavirus is a statewide public health disaster said that Texas is on the verge of being able to significantly ramp up its testing capacity.  Click here to read full story

***

*** City of El Paso, El Paso County issue Declarations of Local Disaster (3/13/2020)

Today, the County and City of El Paso held a joint press conference to announce Declarations of Local Disaster Due to the Public Health Emergency relating to COVID-19. This announcement follows Governor Greg Abbott’s Declaration of a State of Disaster in all counties due to the outbreak and the continued efforts to combat the virus. It is a priority that your local governments are aligned with the state and federal governments in protecting and caring for our communities.

The Declaration of Local Disaster and Public Health Emergency allows the County to take necessary measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to disease, as well as control the risk and prevent the spread of the virus. The County of El Paso is committed to continue collaborative work in the region to ensure all appropriate and necessary measures are taken to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The County of El Paso is working to implement aggressive and actionable plans to slow the transmission of COVID-19 in an effort to reduce illness and minimize social and economic impacts. The County will address issues related to Public Safety, General Services, Courts and Justice operations as well as internal services.

We ask every member of our community to remain calm, to not stockpile supplies (medication, paper goods, water, food, etc.), and to seek medical attention if you are experiencing fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, or have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19. It is also important to note that testing is available locally and the testing process also occurs here in this community.

Event/Activity Cancellations – In the interest of the public’s health and safety, The County of El Paso has taken action to suspend activities and events being held at the Sportspark and Ascarate Park. This includes all tournament play and all scheduled events. The County has also suspended all travel for its employees until further notice.

The El Paso County Sports Commission is postpoing all events indefinitely beginning March 15, 2020 at midnight.

The County will be utilizing electronic/digital methods for conducting public and internal meetings as much as possible. Also, those scheduled for jury duty will be excused from service starting today, March 13, 2020 through April 1, 2020. Those jurors will be rescheduled for a later date.

Please rest assured that your County government is open for business. The measures we are taking are done so in an abundance of caution and are intended to keep residents safe and healthy.

We continue to urge all residents to follow the guidelines below to help prevent the spread of COVID-19: (Source page here)

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Click here to view the Declaration of Local Disaster, and click here to view an updated notice from the Council of Judges.

***

***UTEP releases information on responses to the COVID-19 virus; College will move to ‘remote delivery of course content‘ where possible (3/12/2020)

UTEP senior leaders met again today to discuss responses to the COVID-19 virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended community mitigation strategies to help slow transmission of COVID-19 and in particular to protect individuals at increased risk for severe illness, including older adults and persons of any age with underlying health conditions.  

The State of Texas has declared an emergency, as has the federal government. This guidance implements new directives based on these events.

Goals

The University has established goals to guide our decisions:

1.     Keep students, faculty and staff healthy to the best of our ability.

2.     Complete the semester without disruption of educational progress.

3.     Participate in community mitigation strategies to slow the transmission of respiratory virus infections as recommended by public health experts.

4.     Otherwise, minimize disruptions to daily life and University operations.

It is not possible to anticipate every individual situation or to give everyone specific direction on the thousands of decisions made every day at UTEP. We are a large, complex organization. In several areas of this guidance, we have intentionally built in flexibility so that faculty, staff and students can make individual decisions based on their unique circumstances. As educated, creative people committed to our mission and the community we serve, we expect you to help each other and solve problems keeping the goals in mind. 

We also must anticipate potential additional changes in operations. We will continue to monitor events, and community health in particular, and adapt to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We will continue to communicate with all of you.

A Word to Our Students

There are a lot of things I love about UTEP students. You work hard. You are resourceful. You care for others. You are talented and intelligent.

We will do everything we can as faculty and staff to keep you on track for your degree. But this is going to require hard work and flexibility from you, too. We know that.

In every challenge, an opportunity. 

This is the time for each of you to take greater responsibility as emerging professionals and community leaders. I would ask each of you to renew your commitment to master the material in your courses this semester. More than that, I would also ask you to help each other and even pitch in to help your professors and your community.

General Guidance for All

·      If you feel sick, stay home.

·      Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

·      Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

·      Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

If you believe you have come into contact with the virus, contact a medical provider and limit exposure to others. If a fellow employee or student is exhibiting symptoms, encourage them to do the same.

Schedule and Teaching Modifications

In order to align with El Paso Community College and the public schools, and to allow faculty time to modify course delivery methods, face-to-face classes for the week of March 23-29 are canceled.

UTEP will remain open for faculty and staff. Business operations and student services will continue, while observing social distancing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Classes that are already taught by distance (hybrid or online) will continue as scheduled.

Clinical rotations for healthcare students will continue and will be subject to the guidance of the healthcare facility at which students work. 

Starting March 30, UTEP will move to remote delivery of course content wherever possible.

In cases where course content cannot be delivered remotely, such as some laboratories and performing arts courses, faculty should work to reconfigure their classes for alternative delivery that would achieve social distancing. In some cases that may mean moving to larger venues that will permit maintenance of adequate personal space. The Registrar’s Office will help with moving classes.

In those few cases where adaptation is not feasible, faculty members should seek approval of alternative plans from their chairs and deans.

Faculty should communicate directly with their students concerning plans for their courses.

The University is offering extensive training for faculty to transition their courses to distance or hybrid format. A list of available resources and scheduled training sessions is here.

Social Distancing

The Centers for Disease Control recommends implementing social distancing measures to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses.

Faculty and staff should increase physical space between people in your work areas to about 6 feet. 

Classes that remain in-person should also be reconfigured for the social distancing requirement.

Staff will use their discretion to minimize non-essential in-person meetings.

Wi-Fi and Campus Computing Centers

The campus remains open. There will be more information forthcoming about which computer labs will be open, staffed and cleaned in accordance with best health practices.

Telework or Work from Home

UTEP employees who are at increased risk of severe illness, or who work in offices where close proximity makes social distancing measures difficult, should discuss options for adjusting office locations, telework or working from home with their supervisor.

Every job is different. While most jobs require people to be here on campus, supervisors should review the responsibilities of their work unit and, when feasible, encourage their employees to telework when the mission of the unit can be accomplished without being physically present in the workplace.

Supervisors may also adjust schedules and working hours to meet social distancing guidance.

Public School Closures

Next week is spring break at UTEP and at local public schools. We expect faculty and staff have made plans for the care of their children during spring break.

Faculty and staff with unexpected childcare responsibilities caused by school closures should discuss options with their supervisor.

Employees are reminded that, in general, children should not accompany their parents to work. Given the disruption of activities for health-related reasons, this is particularly unwise at this time.

Cleaning

Janitorial staff have been instructed to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. 

While we recognize that supplies have been limited in local stores, offices are encouraged to try to have hand hygiene products readily available for visitors and employees.

Travel

University-sponsored international and domestic travel is suspended, with the exception of travel to and from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Exceptions to this policy for faculty or staff conducting research-related or mission-critical functions will require approval from your supervising vice president. Student exceptions require approval by the Dean of Students.

Those wishing to travel internationally for personal reasons are highly encouraged to follow all CDC guidelines and understand that self-isolation will be required for 14 days after returning to the United States. All international travelers must report their travel to UTEP’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety using an online form or by calling 915-747-7124.

There are currently no reporting requirements for personal travel, but we encourage you to follow guidelines from the CDC.

Postponements and Cancellations

Faculty or staff that are hosting large gatherings (e.g. more than 250 people) will cancel these events or move to smaller groupings.

For University units that serve high-risk populations – particularly the elderly or those with underlying health conditions – gatherings of more than 10 people will be canceled.

In accordance with the declaration of a state of emergency in Texas, we expect other large gatherings by organizations renting space from the University, including those at the Don Haskins Center, will be postponed.

***

*** EPCC Update – As of March 30th classes will only be Online; Classes for March 23-29 Cancelled (3/13/2020)

As we all have been monitoring, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been increasing across the state and nation.  While we still do not have confirmed cases in El Paso County, health authorities are urging organizations and the public to implement outbreak control measures.

This week community colleges throughout the nation and region have announced transitions from face-to-face classroom activities to online instructional methods and other social distancing tactics.

After thoughtful consideration about the best interest in the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and community, El Paso Community College will also be implementing similar measures.   We hope these proactive measures will help limit the COVID-19 risk to our campus community as these steps have been outlined by local, national and global health authorities to help reduce the spread of the virus.

EPCC will adopt the following steps regarding post-spring break classes, college events, operations and other resources:

Classes

  • Spring Break is scheduled for March 16-22nd.
  • Classes for the week of March 23rd to 29th are cancelled.
  • Minimester II courses will begin on March 30th and be seven weeks long.
  • On March 30th, classes will resume via online instruction for the duration of the semester. For help, please review the student or faculty Blackboard Instructional Continuity Guides.   For assistance logging in, you may email ithelpdesk@epcc.edu or call 915-831-6440.  Faculty will communicate specific course information with students via email and Blackboard.  Faculty with questions should contact their instructional dean.
  • Classes comprised of components that can’t be done online such as clinical, practicums and some labs will be handled on a case-by-case basis.   Students should contact their instructors.
  • To assist students, some support resources, including labs, libraries and tutoring centers will be open with health and safety protocols in place.  More details will be released soon.
  • Due dates for library materials that are currently checked out have been extended through April 30th.

Campus Operations

  • All faculty and staff should return to work on March 23rd and be on duty as usual.
  • During the week of March 23rd, supervisors will determine essential personnel in case more aggressive action needs to be taken.
  • Most campus buildings will remain open, and most campus operations will proceed normally.  Safety protocol guidelines are forthcoming.

Travel

  • All non-essential domestic and international college-related travel is suspended for at least the next 30 days, until April 17th.  At that point, we will evaluate to determine if that suspension will continue.
  • Students and employees are strongly encouraged to limit personal travel in efforts to curb the spread of this virus.
  • Until further notice, EPCC students and staff who have personal travel to a country or region with a CDC Risk Assessment of Level 2 or higher or states/cities with large confirmed outbreaks must report their travel. Students must call the VP’s Office of Student Enrollment and Services at 915-831-3134; employees must send an email to EmployeeRelations@epcc.edu or call 915-831-6630.  Upon return to El Paso, these individuals will be required to place themselves under home monitoring for a minimum of 14 days.  Before returning to work or school, students and employees who have travelled to high-risk areas must provide medical clearance to EmployeeRelations@epcc.edu before returning to campus.

Events

  • Campus meetings and other activities are now restricted to less than 50 participants until further notice.  Currently scheduled meetings and activities must be cancelled or limited to less than 50 participants
  • Events scheduled at the EPCC ASC will be cancelled through April 17th.  At that point, we will evaluate to determine if that suspension will continue.
  • Students, faculty and staff are urged to maintain consideration for appropriate social distancing.

EPCC Tejanos

  • All spring athletic competition is suspended as of March 13th for the remainder of the spring season.

We understand that this is a stressful situation and are doing our best to keep our campus community informed.   As this situation is rapidly evolving, please continue to visit the website, check college email and watch for Tejano Alerts for the latest updates affecting EPCC. We are aware that implementing these changes, especially with such short notice, will be a challenge for us all.

However, it is critical we do what is possible to mitigate the spread of this virus.   We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we navigate this situation.

***

***Update from TTUHSC El Paso on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

On Friday evening, March 13, El Paso health officials reported the first person infected with COVID-19 in our city. We are working closely with public health officials to gather as much available information as possible.

Due to the recent update from El Paso health officials, and in an effort to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in our area, we will implement the following actions:

  • Classes for all schools – the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences – will be canceled from March 17 through March 20. Students are not to report to campus. Instruction will continue via distance education/online delivery on Monday, March 23. Deans and faculty will contact students with more details.
  • Faculty from all three schools will be utilizing the week to finalize procedures to begin distance education/online delivery on Monday, March 23, 2020 until further notice. On-campus student education (e.g. labs, simulation instruction, etc.) are discouraged and will only be allowed if there are no reasonable alternatives.
  • Clinical rotations will continue for third- and fourth-year Foster School of Medicine students as well as students from the Hunt School of Nursing.
  • Clinical personnel will remain on duty at clinical sites.
  • Faculty and staff on duty can continue to go to campus as long as there is “no increased risk relative to the general population.” Telecommuting options by all department heads should be seriously considered and in the coming days, implementing procedures to facilitate telecommuting should be of top priority. Essential staff is expected to remain on duty on campus unless otherwise directed by the Dean or VP.
  • Faculty and staff who continue to come to campus will adhere to social distancing protocols (e.g. no large group gatherings, reminders about hygiene, etc.)

For more information, please visit ttuhscep.edu/coronavirus.

***

***Fabens ISD extends Spring Break until March 30th

Fabens ISD Spring Break for students and staff will be March 16-20, 2020. Schools will remain closed for students from March 23-27 and classes will resume on March 30, 2020

***

*** Clint ISD students will not return to school until April 6

Due to developments and increased concerns regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and out of an abundance of caution, Clint Independent School District students will not return to school following Spring Break and classes will not be in session for the week of March 23-27, 2020. Students will return on Monday, April 6

All student activities have been cancelled until further notice. All student and employee travel is also cancelled.

Please visit www.clintweb.net or follow us on social media for more information and updates.

***

***Ysleta ISD will close for one week after Spring Break thru March 27th; Weekday breakfast, lunch to be served via ‘drive by'(3/13/2020)

Due to heightened concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus, the Ysleta Independent School District has made the decision to close the week following Spring Break.

This means YISD will be closed for Spring Break (March 16-20), as well as the week that follows (March 23-27). Superintendent Dr. Xavier De La Torre will continue to closely monitor the situation, and re-evaluate whether to extend the closure prior to Monday, March 30.

In order to help minimize the impact to our families during the closure, 10 YISD schools will offer weekday breakfast and lunch meals to school-aged children between ages 1-18 on a drive-by basis during the week of March 23-27.

Vehicles will be allowed to pull up to the campuses listed below and receive breakfast (served from 7:30-8:30 a.m.) or lunch meals (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) for school-aged passengers inside the vehicle:

Bel Air Middle School
Del Valle Middle School
Parkland Middle School
Bel Air High School
Del Valle High School
Eastwood High School
Hanks High School
Parkland High School
Riverside High School
Ysleta High School

School electronic devices have been sent home for students in grades 3-10, and YISD encourages students to engage in online learning opportunities during the closure. Students are also encouraged to read and engage in online learning opportunities that have been utilized throughout the school year. During this time off, the district will also be thoroughly sanitizing its campuses and district offices.

All YISD after-school activities, field trips, non-academic events, and large gatherings involving more than 150 people have been canceled until further notice. While the district fully recognizes how important extracurricular and non-academic activities are to students, it must err on the side of caution. Where possible and safe, YISD will try to maintain as much normalcy as possible in students’ routines.

As always, the district will continue to work closely with city and county health officials, and monitor any developments regarding COVID-19 as it relates to the Ysleta ISD community.

***

*** Closing of Catholic Schools until March 30th  (3/13/2020)

Out of an abundance of caution, the Diocese of El Paso has extended the already-scheduled Spring Break for one more week. Students and staff will return on Monday, March 30.

All school-related out-of-town travel has been canceled indefinitely. While there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the county, the Diocese of El Paso is taking all precautions to keep students and staff healthy and safe.

***

***City of Socorro suspends services (3/13/2020)

In the interest of protecting the public’s health and safety from the evolving Coronavirus/COVID- 19 pandemic, the City of Socorro will be supporting the efforts set in place by the County of El Paso & our inter-local health authority, the City of El Paso’s Health Department.

To prevent the potential spread of the virus in our community we have set up the following precautionary and proactive measures:

• Courts held at Socorro Municipal Courthouse have been suspended
• Youth & Senior Programming have been suspended

 There is no cause for panic. These steps implemented are out of an abundance of caution and intended to protect our residents, and visitors.

***

*** Workforce Solutions Borderplex shares Job Center and Hiring Event Updates (3/13/2020)

In response to concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Workforce Solutions Borderplex (WSB) will open its job centers on a delayed start at 10:00am, next Monday, March 16th.  This will allow WSB staff to expand and prepare their workspaces and create the extra distance job seekers may need as they come into the centers for services.

“We recognize that many businesses are closing indefinitely and so many people are facing the fact that they are simply out of work.  Our job center doors will remain open and we are eager to assist the workforce and any individuals who are worried about loss of wages,” said Leila Melendez, CEO of WSB.  “Our staff provides effective job search support and we can help navigate unemployment benefits.”

WSB job centers will maintain a clean environment, as stated by its facilities manager, “To protect our public and staff from commonly spread illnesses, our facilities have utilized Sherman Williams Microbicidal Paint the past two years.

This technology kills pathogens within two hours of contact. In addition, our janitorial services perform multiple rounds of thorough cleaning methods throughout our centers and offices. We will be addressing the COVID-19 developments by incorporating additional measures to disinfect and maintain a healthy environment.”

All hiring events are postponed until further notice, including the JobCon scheduled for April 1st at Eastlake High School in Socorro Independent School District (SISD).

WSB will keep the public updated on developments on a COVID-19 information website accessible by clicking the header at www.borderplexjobs.com.  It is understood that employees throughout the city have been and will continue be working remotely in the coming weeks.  WSB has provided helpful resources, links and tutorials on how to use Zoom, Skype, and other remote systems on its website.

Regarding unemployment benefits and temporary assistance, WSB is awaiting guidance from state officials. The public will be notified as the organization receives updates.

The WSB Job Centers can be found at these locations:

Alpine Center

Ward Center Plaza

710 E. Holland, Suite 2 Alpine, TX 79830

Downtown Center

501 N. Oregon St. El Paso, TX 79901

Horizon Center

13998 Horizon Blvd., Suite 110-120 Horizon City, TX 79928

Job Link Site

6351 South Desert El Paso, TX 79932

Lower Valley Center

8825 N. Loop, Suite 122 El Paso, TX 79907

Military Affiliated Satellite Center Building 503A, Rm. 127 Pershing Road Fort Bliss, TX 79906

Northeast Center

8941 Dyer St. El Paso, TX 79904

Presidio Center

100 E. Market St., Unit 6-B

Presidio, TX 79845

***

***All Events at the El Paso County Coliseum, Events Center Postponed Indefinitely  (3/13/2020)

The County of El Paso, in a joint press conference this afternoon with the City of El Paso, has announced in a joint city/county effort, that all public gatherings shall be limited to reduce the exposure and transmission of the COVID-19 Virus (Coronavirus).

In response to this announcement, the El Paso County Coliseum is postponing all events on the Coliseum grounds indefinitely to allow proper risk assessments and to ensure public safety.

The El Paso County Coliseum will suspend activity Sunday night at midnight. Further details to follow regarding these postponed dates.

The El Paso County Coliseum Box Office will have additional information on rescheduled events as soon as they are available. Please monitor the Coliseum Facebook page for schedule updates.

***

***NM Museum of Space History remains open, New Horizons Theater to Close Temporarily (3/13/2020)

The Tombaugh Education Building and New Horizons Dome Theater at the New Mexico Museum of Space History will be closed beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, until further notice.

“The safety and health of our guests is of the utmost importance to us and we felt it was in their best interest that the theater be temporarily closed during this health emergency,” said Museum Executive Director Chris Orwoll. Educator and Theater staff will telecommute during this time.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History, following the lead of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs and the recommendations of the Governor, is committed to making sure that its visitors and staff are in a safe, healthy environment.

To that end, the museum has instituted several policies including an increased schedule of disinfection for “high-touch” areas, removal or closure of some interactive exhibits, and cancellation of some public events such as the museum’s April 4th Trinity Site Motor Coach Tour, regular meetings and lectures, and outreach functions.

The museum remains open and on its regular schedule at this time. Visitors are encouraged to visit the museum’s website or facebook page for up to date information.

***

***Congresswoman Escobar Announces Office Changes to Mitigate COVID-19 Spread (3/13/2020)

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) announced changes to operations in her Washington, D.C. and El Paso offices that reflect the current public health recommendations.

“As a member of Congress, the health and safety of Americans is my top priority. In that spirit, my office will implement new measures to assist in preventing the spread of coronavirus,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and I encourage all El Pasoans to follow the CDC’s preventive measures.”

The changes include:

  • Beginning on Monday, March 16, all staff members and interns who work in the Washington, D.C. office will be required to telework, until further notice.
  • The El Paso office will remain open. Staff members will continue to receive and respond to telephone calls, provide casework assistance, and answer correspondence. Visitors that present symptoms of respiratory illness upon arrival will be asked to re-schedule the meeting.
  • At the direction of the Sergeant-at-Arms and in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician, the Capitol complex is closed to members of the general public, including tours, beginning today, March 13 until at least the end of the month.

Next week, in an effort to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and craft additional legislation responsive to El Pasoan’s needs, Congresswoman Escobar will meet with community leaders and experts and hold a telephone town hall meeting for constituents on Wednesday, March 18 at 10 a.m. MT.

The COVID-19 pandemic is emerging and rapidly evolving. We encourage El Pasoans to stay aware of updated information and guidance as it becomes available at www.cdc.gov.

***

***Remaining Dates On TobyMac Hits Deep 2020 Tour Postponed (3/13/2020)

“It is with a heavy heart but a responsible mind that I have to announce that the remaining 10 shows of the Hits Deep Tour are being postponed until August. We are at this very moment completely set up in Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock and regretfully, but responsibly won’t be able to play tonight. We love you guys and are so thankful for you. We encourage you to be safe, pray, and care for your families. We have faced so much lately, but I am holding on (with everything in me) to the promise that He will never leave or forsake us. He is a Good, Good, Father and I will stand on that.”– TobyMac

We are working diligently to reschedule all the shows in August. Please retain your tickets as they will be valid on the rescheduled dates. If for any reason you cannot attend the rescheduled date, a full refund will be available through your original point of purchase.

***

*** El Paso Water services shift online amid coronavirus concerns (3/13/2020)

With growing international concern about Coronavirus (COVID-19), El Paso Water is taking a series of measures to protect our employees and customers.

EPWater is temporarily limiting in-person interactions with customers to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Effective March 23, 2020, the Customer Service Center at 6400 Boeing Drive will close until further notice. The website offers multiple options for payment. Customers are encouraged to go to epwater.org/customer_service/pay_my_bill to find out how to pay online or by phone. Customers can also find payment locations that include many local Walmart stores.

EPWater has temporarily closed the New Installation Customer Service Center at 1154 Hawkins until further notice. The utility is still accepting and processing applications along with all required documents via mail, fax or email at newinstallations@epwater.org.

EPWater has placed a hold on all non-essential field appointments, including leak inspections and collection of payments. Customers are asked to respect that field personnel have been directed to limit all personal interactions with customers.

“These may seem like extreme measures, but we are doing everything in our power to protect the health of both our employees and customers,” said EPWater President and CEO John Balliew.

EPWater has provided internal guidance to cancel all non-essential training and meetings, and employee travel has been severely restricted.

Water and wastewater quality and reliability

EPWater has a plan to keep critical facilities staffed so drinking water and wastewater services will be available 24/7/365. EPWater advises customers that there is NO need to stockpile bottled water since the utility will continue to provide healthy, safe, reliable water from the tap.

EPWater has increased sanitary and disinfection measures at all facilities. Facility tours have been suspended until further notice. The TecH2O Learning Center is closed to walk-in visitors.

Through standard methods of disinfection, the utility’s water and wastewater treatment plants are more than capable of dealing with any type of virus, including the coronavirus.

“EPWater is committed to the health and safety of our employees and our customers as the spread of coronavirus evolves,” said Balliew. “Thank you for your trust in EPWater as we continue to provide you with safe, reliable water, wastewater and stormwater services.”

***

***Socorro ISD delaying school until Monday, April 6; all school activities cancelled (3/13/2020)

In the best interest of our students and staff of Socorro ISD and out of an abundance of caution, Socorro ISD will delay the return from spring intersession until Monday, April 6, 2020. All school activities are cancelled until further notice.

Below is Superintendent José Espinoza’s letter:

Dear Team SISD,

While we are on spring intersession and the world is carefully watching the development of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), I assure you that the safety and well-being of all students and staff in the Socorro Independent School District remains our top priority. We are being highly vigilant and closely monitoring the potential impact of COVID-19 in our community, state, nation and around the globe.

Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Socorro ISD or in El Paso County. However, we have taken proactive and precautionary measures for the past several weeks as a response to the onset and spread of COVID-19 around the world in order to ensure the well-being of all individuals in Team SISD.

We continue to seek the guidance of local, regional, state and national health authorities. We also have met with other area school districts to discuss the potential impact of COVID-19 and in turn the proactive actions we take. As we continue to gather vital information and collaborate with partner agencies, we are committed to work diligently to execute the best course of action to protect our El Paso community.

In the best interest of our students and staff of Socorro ISD and out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to delay the return from our Spring intersession until Monday, April 6, 2020. All school activities are cancelled up to this date as well.

 During our extended intersession, we will work to minimize the spread of potential illness in our community, continue meal services for students, and prepare for the possibility of distance learning to provide continuing education to our students.

I know our stakeholders have many questions, and we will do our best to answer all in a timely manner. However, we ask for your patience as our team continues to work through the many issues that must be addressed. Rest assured that we will communicate with you often as information becomes available and as we seek additional guidance from health authorities and the Texas Education Agency.

You can find more information at www.sisd.net/COVID19, and we will continue to update you as this situation develops. Team SISD staff members will get more details from their campus or department leaders regarding work schedules during this time period.

While we have canceled school through April 3rd, COVID-19 remains a fluid situation. Therefore, we will make decisions accordingly as we examine new developments. We are in uncharted territory, but I am confident our community will get through it with all of us being proactive to ensure a healthy environment.

 To prevent the spread of any and all diseases, we encourage all stakeholders to continue to practice social distancing and preventative measures such as frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, and staying home if you are ill and have fever. Our community should consult the City of El Paso Public Health Department for the most recent COVID-19 information. On our website, we have a list of links for resources from the local health department, Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) for additional preventative and precautionary actions.

As always, we are committed to KEEPING TEAM SISD SAFE! Every decision we make is made with our vision of educating and treating our students as if they are our very own children. We greatly value our teachers, support staff, and community as a whole. Again, please visit our district website and social media to stay informed! We appreciate your continued trust and support of the Socorro Independent School District.

Respectfully,

Signature

José Espinoza, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

***

*** IDEA Public Schools extend Spring Break through March 27th (3/13/2020)

All IDEA Public Schools will be extending Spring Break through March 27. IDEA Public Schools will reopen on Monday, March 30. If we need to extend further, we will keep our parents and staff updated as we learn more from health and education officials. Families can find more information and resources  via the IDEA website.

Additionally, We will be providing breakfast and lunch for IDEA students, families and staff who need food at all schools, beginning March 23.

While our schools are closed, we will also provide free weekday childcare at specific campuses for IDEA parents working in jobs essential to community health and safety, including health care workers and first responders, and other essential personnel.

***

***All UIL Contests Suspended Due to COVID-19 (3/13/2020)

AUSTIN — 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.

***

***Cornyn Announces Waiver to Allow Lunches for Low-Income Students to Continue During School Coronavirus Closures

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the Texas Department of Agriculture’s request for a waiver that would allow them to continue to serve no-cost meals to low-income students during school closures.

The waiver negates the National School Lunch Act requirement that schools serve foods in a group setting, which will help curb the spread of coronavirus through social distancing and ensure students continue to receive much-needed meals.

“Millions of young Texans are eligible for free lunch programs, and families across the state rely on schools to provide their children with nutritious meals each day,” said Sen. Cornyn. “While closing schools is critical to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, I’m grateful to the Administration for realizing the toll these closures could take on some Texas children and families and ensuring access to school lunches will continue.”

***

*** Visitation for inmates at the Downtown Detention Facility and the Jail Annex suspended (3/13/2020)

Effective immediately on-site visitation for inmates housed at the Downtown Detention Facility or the Jail Annex Facility has been suspended until further notice.

In accordance with section 418.016 of the Texas Government Code, the Office of the Governor granted the request of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to suspend 37 Texas Administration Code 291.4 ( Visitation).

The suspension is in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor or until the disaster declaration is lifted or expires.

***

*** Sunland Derby to be Held Spectator-Free (3/13/2020)

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino announced today that the 17th annual Sunland Derby, as well as the Sunland Parks Oaks, will both run as scheduled next Sunday, March 22. However, due to recent concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus, the races will be run spectator-free. Individuals who are licensed by the New Mexico Racing Commission and the media will be the only people in attendance. Sunland Park is restricting access to all racetrack viewing areas, including the grandstands, Franklin’s Lounge, the Turf Club, and trackside viewing. Live simulcasting of other races will also be closed for the foreseeable future.

On Thursday, the New Mexico Department of Health issued a Public Health Order restricting “mass gatherings.”  The order is designed as a precautionary tool to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. “The Sunland Derby consistently draws record crowds to the track,” said Ethan Linder, director of marketing for Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino. “We have to do our part to help slow the spread of this virus,” he added.

The casino, hotel, and restaurant at Sunland Park will remain open and operate their normal hours, as per the order.

To ensure we are providing the safest environment possible for customers, we have upgraded our disinfection protocols:

  • Property-wide daily disinfection with hospital-grade electrostatic sprayers to minimize the spread of viruses
  • Additional staff assigned to continuous disinfection of casino and restaurant
  • Increased the number of hand sanitizing and disinfecting wipe stations located throughout the property.

“Excitement always builds in March as horse racing fans look forward to seeing elite horses compete, and cheering on the next Sunland Derby winner,” said Linder. “But as we finalize the field for next week’s big day, we can’t overlook the situation with coronavirus occurring around the world. We will continue to monitor the situation and post updates,” he said.

For the latest information, updates will be posted their website or Facebook page

***

*** Diocese of Las Cruces releases Directives and Memorandum for COVID-19

Bishop Peter Baldacchino has announced that all Catholics in the Diocese of Las Cruces are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Mass will, however, continue to be celebrated in parishes as regularly scheduled.
The Diocese encourages the faithful to stay home if they are ill, elderly or if they have compromised immune systems. People with infants and young children are also advised to avoid large gatherings, as are those who may be fearful of possible contagion for themselves and/or their families. Those not attending Mass are asked to find the Mass on TV, the radio or on-line and make a Spiritual Communion. Where that is not an option, it would be appropriate to pray the Liturgy of the Hours or the Rosary.
In addition, the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Las Cruces will follow the statewide school closure. The closure will take effect on March 16, and students will be allowed to return to school on Monday, April 6.
The Diocese is closely monitoring the situation and will post updates every Thursday, or as necessary.

***

***Canutillo ISD extends Spring Break through March 27th, out-of-town travel canceled (3/13/2020)

The growing concerns over COVID-19 (coronavirus) have led us to adjust our school calendar. The health of our employees and students is our top priority, and while there have been no cases in Canutillo or the El Paso area, we believe it is better to operate with caution.

In order to proactively protect the health and safety of our students and campus community, the Canutillo Independent School District has declared a week of emergency preparedness following the already-scheduled Spring Break. Spring Break is March 16-20 and the emergency preparedness week is March 23-27. Students and staff will return on Monday, March 30.

All out-of-town, school-related travel has been canceled indefinitely for students and staff.

We are coordinating all of the efforts with the Texas Education Agency, Office of Emergency Management and leadership at the City of El Paso, the County of El Paso, UTEP, EPCC, local hospitals, and other area school districts.

The district will use this additional time to deep clean our schools and buses.   We have made this decision to be proactive as families may be returning from spring break travel.  We know that many of our families use spring break as an opportunity for travel, please consider current state and national travel restrictions and CDC guidelines.

All facilities will be closed to the public March 16-27, 2020.  However, March 23-27, the district will offer a CHILD Nutrition program for all students at select campuses. A schedule of meal times and locations will be communicated next week.  WE ASK PARENTS TO CONTACT THEIR CHILD’S SCHOOL IF THEY HAVE NOT RECENTLY PROVIDED THE MOST UPDATED CONTACT INFORMATION.

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*** EPISD extends spring break a week over COVID-19 concerns (3/13/2020)

Out of an abundance of caution, the El Paso Independent School District will be extending the spring break holiday through March 27. The District will reopen March 30.

“The health of our students and employees is our priority, and while there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in El Paso, we believe it is better to move forward using caution,” Superintendent Juan Cabrera said.

The decision was made in order to be proactive as families may be returning from spring break travel. The extended time will be used for deeper spring cleaning of schools.

During the extended week of spring break (March 23-27) some campuses will be open to offer pick-up meals for all students. A schedule of times and locations will be distributed next week.

All school-related out-of-town travel has been canceled indefinitely. While there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the county, the District is taking all precautions to keep students and staff healthy and safe.

Please visit episd.org for more information on the District’s plan and prevention tips related to COVID-19.

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***Fabens ISD cancels school-related out of town travel (3/13/2020)

As a precautionary step, Fabens ISD has canceled all school-related out of town travel for students and staff. All other school-related activities, contests, performances, etc., within El Paso County will continue as normal, until further notice.

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*** Bishop Seitz’s letter to the Diocese of El Paso on the Coronavirus (3/13/2020)

On Friday, Bishop Seitz released a letter to the people of God in the Diocese on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Dear Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Diocese of El Paso:

COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, was recently declared a global pandemic. The situation is evolving rapidly and in some
measure will impact us all.

Our faith community will make every effort to cooperate with public authorities in containing this public health threat. I am in regular
contact with our County Judge, Richard Samaniego, who has the responsibility of declaring a local emergency. All of us have a Christian responsibility to work to slow the spread of this virus and protect our brothers and sisters, especially those most vulnerable to the disease, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.

The saving work of Jesus Christ present in the Church is necessary at a time like this. In this difficult time, we will continue to rely on
the grace of God that comes to us from prayer, the Eucharist and the Sacraments.

God never wills suffering. Our humanity is fragile, even in a global and connected world. But as St. Augustine teaches, God can bring
good even out of evil. I know that God will use this experience to deepen the spiritual fruits of our Lenten sacrifices and focus us more
deeply on the things in life that really matter – prayer, generosity and charity for our neighbor.

This situation will have financial ramifications for many, especially for the poor but also those with less stable employment, parents who need to work and are unable to provide childcare when schools close, university students unable to return home, and those without health insurance. The elderly and sick may feel isolation and loneliness. In the spirit of Lent, I ask all of us to cut out unnecessary things from our daily lives and to practice a spirit of gratitude and generosity to others.

Please also be conscious of your responsibility to support the work of the Church. Your parish and the entire Church is dependent
upon its weekly income to continue its work. Consider ways to continue your support even if you are unable to attend Sunday Eucharist. Online giving is a helpful option.

The Diocese of El Paso will continue to monitor the situation. Please be attentive to messages from MyParishApp. You can sign up at
your app store or text 88202.

In the meantime we will continue to apply the strong remedy of prayer for all of those affected by this diffi cult situation. And of course, let us pray for one another!

While the Coronavirus is not yet present in our region, there are steps we can take right now to do our part as a community of faith to
respond to this pandemic. The measures below take effect immediately in the Diocese of El Paso.

Bp. Mark

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***NMSU announces two-week spring break for students, beginning Monday  (3/13/2020)

New Mexico State University is implementing a system-wide, two-week spring break for students, beginning Monday, March 16.

While coursework will not be held during these two weeks, it’s important to note that the university will remain open. On-campus housing will remain open. NMSU’s Health and Wellness Center, Corbett Center, Dining Services, Police, Fire and all other support services will remain open during this time.

NMSU is in continuous communication with regional government and educational partners in response to the escalating circumstances surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19). Additional information for students, faculty and staff will be disseminated by the end of today.

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***EPCC Athletic Competition Suspended Due to COVID-19 (3/13/2020)

After much consideration about the safety of our student-athletes and campus community, EPCC has decided that effective immediately the EPCC Tejanos and Tejanas athletic competitions are suspended due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 risk.

This will affect the remaining season games for EPCC men’s baseball and women’s softball scheduled this spring, including the March 13 and 14 games scheduled with Frank Phillips College. EPCC’s Cross County and Half Marathon are not currently in season.

This was a difficult decision that was made with the well-being of all student-athletes, fans, coaches and staff in mind.

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***CIRQUE DU SOLEIL CANCELS ALL REMAINING PERFORMANCES OF OVO IN EL PASO (3/13/2020)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and following the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of social distancing, all remaining performances of Cirque du Soleil’s OVO from March 13-15, 2020 at El Paso’s UTEP Don Haskins Center have been cancelled.

All ticket buyers will be refunded at the original point of purchase. Ticket buyers who bought their tickets through Ticketmaster will be issued an automatic refund onto the credit card used to purchase their tickets. No further action is required.

Cirque de Soleil’s Touring Show Division is currently revisiting OVO’s tour plans for the rest of 2020.

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is committed to providing a work and performance environment with the highest standard of health and safety. In collaboration with local health authorities and business partners, the company will continue to monitor this situation as it evolves and will share information as needed.

For further questions please contact Cirque du Soleil’s customer service team: 1-877-9-CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783).

***

Staff Report

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