The Carthage ISD Board of Trustees met Monday, Nov. 16.

Carthage ISD officials say district measures including a mask mandate and increased sanitation measures are helping to keep COVID-19 infections down among students and staff.

They’re also planning to add another preventative measure on school buses: Using substitutes to check students’ temperatures before they get on the bus and also making sure students are wearing their masks at all times.

Assistant Superintendent Donna Porter, the district’s COVID-19 coordinator, said Monday that they have had 53 cases since school started and had just three active cases that day.

“That is a very low percentage compared to some of our other schools,” she said. “We do have some schools around us that are going back into at-home learning because of the amount of teachers that they’ve had with COVID right now... I think we’re doing a really good job, and I think the teachers are doing a good job, the students are doing are and the parents are helping us out too.”

Chief Learning Officer Allen Koch said the district has also received more Chromebooks for students, meaning they are one-to-one across all campuses.

“One, it can support instruction in the classroom and two, if we ever have to have campuses or district go in to COVID at home, we have devices and connectivity for every single student here. We’re prepared for whatever happens,” he said.

Using substitute teachers on buses was an idea proposed to help with the close occupancy on those buses, Transportation Director Renee Risinger said.

“Our drivers are having a hard time keeping the masks on the riders on the students, and they’re asking for help,” she said.

The plan is to use 30 subs on buses between Nov. 30 and the Christmas break to take temperatures and enforce mask wearing, Risinger said. If a child’s temperature is too high, the district will send the child back home — or if there’s no one at home to take the child, then bring them to the school nurse and call the parents to come pick up the child.

“We feel that in most of the places, most of the businesses in the area, they’ll let you come into the business after they check your temperature,” Interim Superintendent Jim Dunlap said. “This is not anything unusual, and we have the equipment, we have the staff... In the close quarters of the school bus, we feel that’s a measure we can take to help mitigate these issues.”

Overall, Risinger said, the preventative measures the district is taking are working.

“We are scrubbing our buses, we’re scrubbing our schools. We’re staying on top of it, and it shows by our low numbers that we are doing what we need to do to keep our numbers low,” she said.


Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.