Kilgore High School front

Kilgore High School (in this image from the school's Facebook page) is among the local learning institutions that will be closed next week, as officials take precautionary measures to keep from spreading the contagious coronavirus. All Kilgore ISD campuses will be closed next week, as will Kilgore College, Overton, Leverett's Chapel and West Rusk. Sabine ISD schools are closed through March 27. (Photo from KILGORE HIGH SCHOOL FACEBOOK)

Area public schools and colleges, including Kilgore College, have elected to be cautious concerning the potential spread of the coronavirus, and shut doors for the time being, many just extending spring break that was already happening.

All public schools in the Kilgore News Herald’s coverage area – Kilgore, Sabine, Overton, Leverett’s Chapel and West Rusk – made announcements Friday that they will be closed next week, March 16-20, with Sabine extending it farther than that (until March 27). The UIL suspended all sports and other activities until March 29, so any upcoming sports schedules, including those mentioned here on kilgorenewsherald.com, are not correct. When and if those games are re-scheduled or canceled will be posted here on this site.

Kilgore College’s announcement was much heavier: the college will extend spring break through next week and close the campus, but noted that after that period, classes would resume on March 23 remotely, likely online through video conferencing, the remainder of the semester. It was noted that in addition, residence halls will be closed for the remainder of the spring semester. Faculty and full-time staff should report to campus as usual to receive training beginning Monday.

Each instructor, the college’s website states, will contact their students this coming week with further instructions once details are finalized for virtual classes, labs, and clinical practicums. The college notes that students should check their KC email regularly.

KC also announced this email address – covid-19@kilgore.edu – to answer questions from the KC community. A hotline, (903) 988-3747, will be available starting Monday at 9 a.m., and will be answered Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and on Friday until 3:45. A web page containing current information: Kilgore.edu/COVID-19.

In somewhat of an upsetting addendum to the KC announcement was the realization that with April events being canceled, Rangerette Revels was among those events.

Many local government offices could be altering hours as well, to prevent possible spread of COVID-19, defined by the United States’ government’s website (usa.gov) as “a respiratory illness that was first detected in Wuhan, China. Its symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The virus is believed to spread like the flu when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

The website also offers this site, coronavirus.gov, to get updates from the Federal government. President Donald Trump declared the virus a national emergency this week, and many states are closing schools for the time being, as well as discouraging, some even banning, large public gatherings in hopes of containing the virus and extinguishing its effects in the U.S.

Check the websites of each county, such as Gregg County or Rusk County, to see closure or hour changes.

Kilgore Independent School District made the call early Friday evening to not have class this next week, extending their break. Just a few hours prior, the University Interscholastic League announced that all UIL-sponsored sports and other extracurricular events were on hold until March 29.

So, in short, there will be no classes at any KISD campus in the next week, no sports or other activities,

This statement came from KISD Superintendent Andy Baker.

“Hello Kilgore Bulldogs,

“Since my original message to you earlier (Friday) afternoon, I have had the chance to meet with the Texas Education Agency and be in numerous discussions with various county and city officials concerning the current COVID-19 health situation.  Although there have been minimal confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Gregg and Rusk counties, in an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community…Kilgore ISD will be extending our current Spring Break through next Friday, March 20th for all KISD students and staff members.

“All KISD scheduled events, all student scheduled practices, games, and events, and all community based activities occurring at any Kilgore ISD building or facility scheduled to occur during next week’s time frame have been canceled.

“During next week’s extended break, Kilgore ISD will continue to be in contact with the Texas Education Agency and our local officials to continue our understanding and planning for this unprecedented health situation.  Additionally, I will send out another update message next Wednesday, March 18 to help keep everyone informed and up to date with information.

“Again, Kilgore ISD will be extending our current Spring Break through next Friday, March 20th and all scheduled school and community events scheduled to occur next week at KISD facilities have been canceled.  Thank you again for your patience and understanding as we attempt to work through this current health situation.”

Sabine ISD made a similar announcement, although Sabine ISD schools will be closed through Friday, March 27. This is a partial segment from the statement that the district placed on its website, sabineisd.org, and noted that parents and others can also expect the school district’s Facebook page to be updated, as well.

“Out of abundance of caution and much gathering of information and discussions, Sabine ISD will remain closed through Friday, March 27. The district will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation prior to reopening school on Monday, March 30. We will communicate with updated information as it becomes available.

“…’At home’ learning projects and online projects for students are being planned by campus administration at this time. Information and details will be communicated by campus administration next week.”

Overton Superintendent of Schools Stephen DuBose sent a message around 4 p.m. Friday that OISD, too, would be closed next week.

“Overton ISD will extend spring break one week in response to recommendations from health officials. The district will re-evaluate the situation next Thursday (March 19) and will use the district and campus websites and Facebook pages to inform parents, employees and students. No activities, meetings, games or practices will occur in OISD until further notice,” DuBose said, in social media.

More of the same from Leverett’s Chapel. Superintendent Josh Johnson and LCISD made the call around 5 p.m. Friday.

“With the likelihood of students traveling over spring break to other areas of the state, I have decided to cancel school for the entire week of March 16-20,” Johnson wrote, on the LCISD website. “As of now, we will resume normal school hours on Monday, March 23. Student health and safety is our number one concern. We would rather give all students another week to recover if they must do so. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause for you, or your childcare.”

Johnson reiterated that the UIL had suspended sports and other activities in his statement as well, and said school officials will be sanitizing all classrooms and buses in preparation for the re-opening.

West Rusk ISD in New London got right to the point with their announcement on Facebook: “West Rusk will remain closed through next Friday, March 20. No practices of any kind will be allowed while the school is closed.”

The News Herald will keep the public informed as best as possible, as always. For any developments, see kilgorenewsherald.com, and check out the Kilgore News Herald on Facebook.

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