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Message from Interim Superintendent Vince Sheffield regarding hospitalization rates

Dear EPISD Family,

We received inquiries regarding the current hospitalization rate for El Paso County as it pertains to on-campus instruction. The rate today reached 20.14 percent, which places area school districts in the Red Zone according to the Region 19 Safe Zones plan.  

As has been our protocol, we met with Dr. Ocarranza from the city’s health department, as well as with other area superintendents.  Dr. Ocarranza shared that the county is not expected to remain in the Red Zone and advised that schools should continue to educate students as currently established. 

Additionally, the Texas Education Agency-approved Region 19 Safe Zones plan indicates that school districts may limit student attendance if there is a return to the Red Zone.  Therefore, at this time, we will continue with face-to-face instruction for students who returned on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Our attendance on Tuesday was approximately 30 percent of total enrollment, well below the 50 percent recommended limit for the Orange Zone and only slightly above the recommended limit for Red (25%).  We do not expect rates to remain above 20 percent, and believe it would be more disruptive to students to change course at this time. However, if conditions continue to deteriorate, we will seek additional guidance from local health authorities.

This time of transition back to campus is essential as we move forward. It allows time for teachers and students to adjust to the protocols with smaller numbers on campus. Regardless of local conditions, our Texas Education Agency waiver expires on January 29 and we must open on February 1 for all students who wish to return to face-to-face instruction. 

Thank you to everyone who helped make Tuesday’s return safe and successful for all. 

Excellence Always! 

Vince Sheffield

Interim Superintendent