Thursday, January 27, 2022

Update: Local schools closing due to COVID-related staff shortages

Two school districts serving parts of southern Denton County announced Thursday that they will close for at least one day because of staffing shortages caused by COVID-19.

Argyle ISD

Argyle ISD announced Thursday that all district schools and offices will be closed on Friday.

“This decision was made due to staffing shortages caused by reported COVID-19 cases that have impacted the instruction at our campuses this week,” the district said in a news release. “We understand this is an inconvenience for many of our families, but it was a necessary decision due to 18 percent of our staff district-wide being absent. Argyle ISD has over 70 staff and 130 student active cases (highest totals of the 2021-2022 school year).”

There will be no remote learning on Friday, but high school extracurricular events will continue as planned Friday through Monday.

The district will not be required to make up the missed day on Friday. Students and staff will return to their regular schedules on Tuesday after Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“This has been a challenging week for our campuses managing the increase in cases and the shortage of teachers, substitutes and staff district-wide,” the district said. “We believe this is a needed pause. We thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate these challenges.”

Northwest ISD

Northwest ISD announced Thursday that it will close all schools and buildings Friday through Tuesday because of a surge of COVID-19 throughout the district.

“Because of the rising absentee rates of our campus staff, it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate many of our schools,” Superintendent Ryder Warren said in a letter to NISD families. “There are simply too few educators and support staff to fill in the gaps.”

As of Wednesday, there are 1,155 total positive cases reported throughout the district, a 878% increase since the Christmas break. Nearly 500 teachers, administrators and other campus staff members are out due to having COVID-19 symptoms themselves or to care for a family member with COVID-19.

“To all of our stakeholders – I am sorry we are having to do this, but we have to break the cycle of positive tests,” Warren said. “We are being informed by many medical experts from our area health departments that the Omicron variant is providing less severe symptoms for many of us who have tested positive, but the issue is that positive tests still bring the requirement of quarantining, and we cannot assure our schools are being successfully run day to day with so many campus-level staff out.”

School is out Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, and the district wanted to have five straight days with no one in its buildings, so it decided to close Friday through Tuesday, with plans to resume normal operations on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

During this closure, all high school extra- and co-curricular activities will go on as planned, because they can’t be rescheduled and there is adequate staff available to continue them. All activities involving middle and elementary school students and staff are canceled, beginning Friday.

The two days of no school are not remote learning days and the district is not changing the student instructional calendar. The days are being used as inclement weather cancellations, which are built into the calendar.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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