In the first few weeks of the new school year, COVID-19 cases have forced at least 45 small school districts across Texas to stop offering private classes, according to the Austin-Texas Education Agency.
The shutdown, which affected about 42,000 students as of Thursday, came at a time when matters caused by the highly contagious Delta type have left administrators hoping for a return to normalcy in the school year.
Casillods has toured districts at a time when many have said they have fewer tools to deal with the spread of the virus and have had to devise their own strategies that may vary from district to district. Administrators have been tasked with keeping students and staff members open for long periods of time to protect their health, provide quality education and avoid overcrowding at the end of the school year.
“It’s worse than planned last year,” said Tim Savay, a spokesman for the Hess Consolidated Independent School District. “There’s no question about that. Last year we had a lot of tools: we might need a mask, and we could provide a virtual option that was funded …. [Then]The Delta variety really appeared and just exploded on us.
State statistics on corona virus cases in districts that close at least once during the school year are incomplete. The list of public school closures in Texas is also incomplete, according to the state TEA, due to privacy policies. Agency spokesman Frank Ward said the agency was unofficially tracking the closures based on media and district reports because the districts did not need to report the closures to the TEA.
As of August, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 27,353 new positive COVID-19 cases among students in public schools in Texas, 23-29, the biggest increase in a week in the entire epidemic. Since the start of the academic year, 51,904 cases have been reported among students and 13,026 among staff in the state. That’s about 1 percent of the 5.3 million students enrolled in the state as of January.
Children’s hospitals, which are full of COVID-19 patients during epidemics that have never been seen before, have also seen an increase in patients, said Dr. Coron Warmank, medical director of Coke Children’s Health’s emergency services. Is. Care system in Fort Worth.
“Every year when school starts, we expect the volume to increase. [in our emergency room] “We planned for it, we scheduled for it,” Warmanick told a news conference on Wednesday. On Monday, we saw 601 which is an all time record. At 600, we are physically unable to provide timely care for children.
As a result of COVID-19, districts handle demarcations differently: younger ones temporarily close all campuses, and large classrooms, grade level and individual schools.
“Every week when the kids come back, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in their numbers, and it’s very stressful and very relevant to me,” said Phil Edwards, superintendent of Engleton ISD.
On Tuesday, Engleton announced that it would close its campus until next Tuesday, while still allowing extracurricular activities to continue, without the need for students to work long distances. As of Thursday, there were more than 200 positive COVID-19 cases among students, staff and staff in the district, Engleton ISD reported.
Edwards said there were a number of factors that led to the closure of the district, such as the level of staff and the number of students who have been quarantined due to the exposure of Covid 19.
In Hays Consolidated ISD, 10 percent of students in a group such as a class, grade level or school test within a week are positive, remote conferencing has been given a state approval for temporary remote learning, for 10 days, Saway said. Recently, five classrooms within the district closed.
Under remote conferencing, schools are still able to count attendance, which the state uses to determine district funding. Sawai said, but the program is not like a full-time virtual option. Senate Bill 15, headed by Greg Abbott’s government desk, will fund virtual learning by September 2023 and give school districts the option to set up their own virtual programs. However, the legislation comes with a number of warnings that could exclude many students of color.
Another toll district that relied last year – students need to wear masks – has been embroiled in legal battles since Abbott ordered a ban on mask mandates in schools.
“Last academic year, people accepted that we were in an epidemic, and it was stressful, but everyone had the patience and the sense of seriousness,” Savay said. “This year, because we were coming out of the epidemic and then it suddenly came back to us, people are tired and they’re frustrated, and rightly so, they’re tired. Worried about what we are implementing or not.
Despite receiving a recommendation from its local health authority to close all of its campuses, Leander ISD has decided to stick to a group-based approach to how it handles the Kwid 19 clusters. As of Friday, there were more than 900 cases of cowardice between students and staff in the district, and about 20 of the 20 elementary school classes and sixth-graders in the three schools have been transferred to remote conferencing, district spokesman Corey Ryan said. Ryan said it seems like the best option at the moment, as few or no cases have been seen in some schools in the district, with many students relying on school services and safety to prevent them from reaching home. , And district staff shortages
“It’s honestly a tough balancing act for schools,” Ryan said of deciding whether to close the entire district.
The death of teachers due to complications from COVID-19 is also a serious reality for some districts. At Conley ISD, two teachers died in less than a week from each other at the end of August. Jill Botel Berge, assistant superintendent of the district’s human resources department, said the rise in campus deaths and cowardly cases prompted the district to close all its campuses.
“We’re looking at people who have only one sign and that’s coming positive, and it could be as simple as a runny nose, and then we had some that weren’t symptoms, and they were positive. But still they have the ability to spread it to people who can be greatly affected.
The district plans to resume classes on Tuesday. Bottleburge said the district is consulting with the local district attorney to see what the consequences would be if the mask was needed and went against Abbott’s order.
“Every day seems to be something new and a new challenge that needs to be overcome,” said Buttel Berge.