AUSTIN (KXAN) — From asking parents to volunteer to become substitute teachers to increased pickup traffic due to bus driver shortages to canceling an entire day of school, Central Texas school districts are struggling as COVID-19 cases surge in the area.
The Marble Falls Independent School district revealed Wednesday its campuses will be closed on Friday. Superintendent Chris Allen told KXAN they made this decision because 79 of their staff members tested positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 3. He noted some are also out with the flu.
According to Allen, Marble Falls ISD has only been able to get about half of the subs it needs to cover for teachers who are out sick.
Though Allen said they’ve been able to get by thus far by moving staff around from office duties and central offices to help out in classrooms, he doesn’t think they’d be able to sustain operating as such for the rest of the week.
“At the rate staff is testing positive for COVID and the shortage of substitute teachers who are willing/able to fill the classrooms, we needed to make the tough decision to close Friday,” Allen said. “These shortages also affect the ability to run buses and accomplish other operations that require specific training. Closing school is hard on parents, so we do not make the decision to do so unless the situation warrants it. “
Like several other districts, the Bastrop Independent School District has reduced its bus routes due to staffing issues. However, one of its parents reached out to KXAN saying doing so has caused dangerous traffic issues near Bastrop ISD schools during pickup time. This parent told KXAN there have been two recent accidents as a result.
The Hays Consolidated Independent School District is working to train parents who have volunteered to be subs. But these parents won’t be able to immediately help out where the district desperately needs them. According to Hays CISD, it’s having to condense classrooms, meaning teachers teaching at least two classes at once in one room.
The Lake Travis Independent School District is also short on cafeteria workers.
Liberty Hill Independent School District’s superintendent put out a video, asking volunteers to help out, saying its COVID cases are doubling daily.