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Look What Fell from the Sky in Hondo

June 01, 2021 David Wylie

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Risk Management Roundup, June 2021

Fund members have a vested interest in collaborating to manage risk. We are excited to share positive news from your peers across the state, along with risk management headlines that could impact your team.

Garland ISD turns to technology to help manage nursing office

Amarillo ISD eyes new police department

Texas youth show up in "amazing" numbers for vaccines

Forecasters expect another active hurricane season

Hondo: Hail capital of Texas?

School finds home workspaces set up improperly

District suspects HVAC system in COVID-19 cases

Virus, technology, unrest make stressful year for teachers

Stay plugged in

Fund member news

These initiatives are helping Fund members protect their valuable resources. Consider how you can apply or adapt their work to meet your unique needs.

Garland ISD turns to technology to help manage nursing office

Patient seeing a doctor virtuallyA virtual revolution has played out since the pandemic landed with a resounding thud last March. Platforms such as Zoom and Teams empower us to collaborate with co-workers, educate students, and even attend conferences remotely.

In the spirit of virtual connectivity, Garland ISD partnered with Hazel healthcare to bring pediatric doctors and students face-to-face.

The district’s telehealth program was free this school year. Most medical insurance will be accepted going forward.

Telemedicine: It’s not just for school nurses

Fund members with Workers’ Compensation coverage can take advantage of our telemedicine program. The program gives injured employees quicker access to care. Virtual visits with health care providers also mean less work time missed.

Most telemedicine visits among Fund members during the pandemic have been with physicians. Injured employees have also seen psychologists and physical therapists without leaving the comfort of their homes or offices.

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Amarillo ISD approves new police department

With an eye toward giving its security team more jurisdiction, Amarillo ISD laid the groundwork for a new police department. The department would initially include two current staff members who become commissioned through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

Paul Bourquin, the district’s director of safety & emergency preparedness, said its school liaison program with the Amarillo Police Department won’t change.

“It takes away those jurisdictional concerns, so we respond when we have incidents. We protect the schools. We protect the kids. We currently do that, but it really cleans that up,” Bourquin told the Amarillo Globe News.

What are your other security options?

Creating a district police department is just one way to shore up security. Hutto ISD Police Chief William Edwards says districts can explore one or a combination of these school-based law enforcement options:

Edwards advises that whichever option(s) your organization chooses, don’t evaluate success solely on how many calls you respond to.

“It’s also important to know how many calls you prevented because your security professionals or volunteers were on campus every day, building relationships with stakeholders, and partnering with them to proactively address issues,” said Edwards.

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Industry news

Educating students during a pandemic might not leave time to monitor risk management news that could impact your team. That’s why we do the heavy lifting for you. Here is a quick look at recent headlines, along with our school-specific expertise to help you protect your resources.

Hondo: Hail capital of Texas

Hail stones and a tennis ballPreserve your peas, save your pennies, and put your softballs back in the dugout. None of them measure up to a potentially record-setting hailstone found in Hondo, a rural community outside San Antonio.

Forecasters use everyday things to put the size of hail into perspective. Milder storms typically produce pea-sized hail. When hail grows to the size of a penny, it is considered severe. Softball-sized hail can punch holes in roofs. That’s exactly what happened in the Metroplex this spring.

The Hondo hailstone measured 6.4 inches in diameter. For perspective, a softball is just under 4 inches. The State Climate Extreme Committee will determine if it breaks any records.

Can you afford not to invest in preventive roof maintenance?
Texas consistently tops the list of hail-prone states. Not coincidentally, hail damage to roofs is consistently among the most common and costly claims filed by Fund members with Property coverage.

You can control damage to your facilities if you choose hail-resistant materials, invest in a roof preventive maintenance program, and take advantage of these resources:

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Texas youth show up in "amazing" numbers for vaccines

In the first week that Texas adolescents were eligible to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, more than 100,000 kids ages 12-15 poured into pediatricians’ offices, vaccine hubs, and school gyms across the state to get their shots.

About 6 percent of newly eligible children are vaccinated. It took more than a month to reach that percentage for eligible adults when the vaccination effort began last winter.

Not to be outdone, Moderna will seek Food and Drug Administration approval for kids between the ages of 12 and 17.

Taking the pandemic’s pulse 14 months in

If you’re not up to speed on the latest pandemic developments, here’s a quick overview:

  • Weekly deaths in the U.S. recently hit a 14-month low.
  • One year ago, kids represented 3 percent of COVID-19 cases. As of late April, that number had jumped to 22 percent.
  • Public health officials believe the country might never achieve herd immunity. They add that our ability to co-exist with COVID-19 hinges on more people getting vaccinated.
  • Governor Greg Abbott announced schools can’t require masks as of June 5.

Find out what it all means for educators, students, and the fall semester.

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Forecasters expect another active hurricane season

Satellite view of hurricaneThe official June 1 start of hurricane season was still more than a week away, but Ana simply couldn’t wait.

In late May, Tropical Storm Ana debuted as the first named storm of the season. Ana delivered rain and blustery 40-mile-per-hour winds to Bermuda before weakening and retreating. The storm’s early arrival sets the tone for another active hurricane season.

Forecasters predict 17 named storms, with four major hurricanes. That might seem mild compared to last year’s record-breaking 30 named storms and six major hurricanes. It’s still well above the 12 named storms and three major hurricanes marking a typical hurricane season.

Hurricane fallout extends beyond immediate path

Hurricanes don’t just impact Texas schools that serve the Gulf Coast. Tornadoes, floods, and power outages often extend hundreds of miles from a hurricane’s center.

Visit our hurricane toolkit for resources that will help you protect your property, vehicles, staff, and students this hurricane season.

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School finds home workspaces set up improperly

If University of Cincinnati employees working remotely feel aches and pains in their wrists, necks, shoulders, or backs, they should look closely at their workstations. The school conducted a study that uncovered incorrectly configured desks, chairs, and monitors:

  • 41 percent of chairs were too low.
  • 53 percent of employees had armrests on their chairs, but 32 percent did not use them.
  • 69 percent did not lean into their chair’s back support.
  • 75 percent of employees’ monitors were too low.
  • 31 percent of employees had to twist to see their primary monitor.

Work safer, boost productivity with office ergonomics
Repetitive motion and awkward or static postures can cause muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve, disc, and blood vessel injuries—collectively called musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). A simple sprain or strain can cost between $32,000 and $67,000, according to One Call research.

Whether your employees work remotely or on site, a sound ergonomics program can help you avoid costly claims and lost productivity associated with MSDs.

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District eyes HVAC system in COVID-19 cases

At least eight students in a Pennsylvania elementary school classroom recently tested positive for COVID-19. There is no evidence of transmission beyond the classroom.

The district's operations department inspected the room and found that a manual damper in the HVAC ductwork above the ceiling was not open enough. Consequently, the system only cycled about 30 percent of the maximum fresh air it should have.

It’s time to clear the air

Bringing fresh air into facilities is among a handful of best practices that control the spread of COVID-19. Good indoor air quality also promotes productivity and reduces the spread of flu and other illnesses.

Your school operations staff should ensure you comply with ventilation requirements in local building codes. Most facilities combine mechanical ventilation and natural ventilation.

If your summer projects include shampooing, stripping, and waxing floors, you can protect employees from harmful fumes by opening windows and doors—as long as you make security the priority.

For more guidance on improving ventilation, read:

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Virus, technology, unrest make stressful year for teachers

Woman gazing out windowThe pandemic, virtual instruction, and social unrest collided to make this school year especially stressful for teachers. Manor ISD Superintendent Andre Spencer has a message for educators who wonder if this academic year will be their last.

“Don’t beat yourselves up too bad, because this was a shift for everyone and it was a shift in a direction that none of us were expecting,'” Spencer told the Associated Press.

Travis Bristol is a University of California Berkeley professor who researches teacher workplace experiences and focuses on educators of color. He recommends that schools create opportunities for employees to talk about what they’ve been through and grieve if necessary.

Addressing COVID fatigue and chronic stress in schools

Trips to the gym, coffee with friends, time with family, and other self-care mechanisms do a lot for a person’s mental health. Until recently, the pandemic limited our access to activities and social interactions that take us to our happy places.

The result? A perfect storm of anxiety-inducing factors, according to Austin-based psychologist and behavioral health specialist Kay Allensworth.

“It’s kind of like a bucket being filled with water one drop at a time,” explained Allensworth. “Eventually, the bucket will overflow if there is not a release or outlet. This continued stress and exhaustion leads to COVID fatigue.”

Employees who have develop COVID fatigue often suffer health consequences, miss work more often, and get injured on the job. If your organization learns to combat chronic stress and COVID fatigue, it can promote employee well-being and continue serving its students, parents, and community.

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The Fund constantly monitors the risk landscape and shares best practices with our members. We make it easy for you to plug into our expertise. Sign up for email updates, and we’ll deliver information and resources to your inbox.

Tagged: COVID-19, "emergency management", flood, hail, hurricanes, "severe weather"