LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) — The Lockhart Independent School District says 781 of its students are currently quarantining after recent COVID-19 surge in the school community.
The district has 204 active cases — 181 of those are students.
Lockhart ISD, located in Caldwell County, has already closed four classes and a student program because 20% or more students were diagnosed with coronavirus. More closures are expected and everyone, including students, will now have to wear masks during in-person classes.
The Texas Tribune reports at least 45 small school districts across Texas have been forced to temporarily stop in-person classes because of COVID-19 spread.
At Leander Independent School District in Williamson County, two middle schools were shut down for two weeks after over 400 cases were confirmed in the school community. Since the beginning of classes, Leander ISD has logged over 840 positive cases.
Nevertheless, Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates in public schools remains firmly in place. Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened legal action against districts who do impose their own mandates.
Recent polling from the University of Texas Austin’s Texas Politics Project found 56% of Texans support requiring public school students and staff to mask up on campuses. Forty-seven percent polled strongly support it.
Among party lines, Democrats were more likely to support masking in schools than Republicans.
Newsweek reports at least 1,247 Texas districts have implemented their own mask mandates — including the state’s biggest districts: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, North East (located in San Antonio) and Houston.
Polarizing mask sentiment even forced Northside Elementary, located northwest of San Antonio, to request police security to secure campus from anti-masking protesters. Recent incidents at the school included a student being yelled at by protesters to take his mask off.
In August, Eanes ISD in Austin reported a teacher had her face covering ripped off by a parent. Another instructor was reportedly yelled at because several parents said they couldn’t hear through her mask.
As the fight in favor and against masking at schools goes on, so too does the severity of child and adolescent COVID-19 cases. The situation has become increasingly dire as the delta variant — now the dominant strain across the U.S. — proves more aggressive with children than previous variants. Several Texas hospitals have reported increased pediatric admissions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that child/adolescent emergency room visits and hospitalization rates increased significantly in August. States with lower vaccination rates were four times more likely to have higher young people in hospitals for COVID-19, the data showed.
Only children ages 12 and older are currently eligible for vaccination.
Meanwhile, it’s estimated that shutdowns have already affected about 42,000 students statewide.