Lewisville ISD will implement a district-wide closure this week, Interim Superintendent Gary Patterson said in a letter to families on Monday evening.
“Our staffing shortages have reached significant levels due to the latest COVID surge,” Patterson said. “We do not have enough staff members to cover the expected staff absences, despite our best efforts to find substitutes and coverage for classes. The numbers simply are not in our favor.”
LISD leaders decided Monday to temporarily close the district, beginning Wednesday. Classes will resume on Monday, Jan. 31.
“It is our hope this district-wide closure will stem this alarming trend and provide relief to both students and staff,” Patterson said.
The positive cases reported by LISD middle school and high school students over the last 10 days have increased by almost 500%, Patterson said. Absences for on-campus staff are running between 7-800 daily, while district-wide staff absences have been over 900 and peaked at 1,048 on Friday.
“That is more than double the number we would expect during non-COVID years,” Patterson said.
Not all absences are positive COVID-19 cases, Patterson said, but staff members are calling out with other illnesses, personal reasons, sick family members, family medical leave and other reasons.
Patterson said the district doesn’t have enough staff members to offer virtual or remote learning options instead of in-person learning.
“We are conscious of the lost instructional time, and are considering all options to address those concerns,” he said.
Patterson also acknowledged feedback received from families on all sides of the issue.
“Some believe we should have closed the district earlier,” he said. “Some believe we shouldn’t close schools at all. We know this is not a perfect solution, and certainly a measure we wish we didn’t have to take. I want to be clear – we have used every resource available over the last two weeks to keep the district open.”
Student activities such as fine arts and athletics will continue at the high school level. Middle school athletics for this week will be canceled and rescheduled for a future date, while some optional fine arts practice sessions may be held virtually. Campus-specific information will be shared by campus administrators and program sponsors regarding practices or other important information.