CENTRAL TEXAS (KXAN) — Staff shortages are leading to school closures across the state, as well as here in Central Texas, as the omicron variant continues to drive case counts up.
Here are the upcoming school closures that have been announced in the Central Texas area so far.
Lexington ISD said all schools and offices would be closed Monday, Jan. 24 due to COVID-19. The district said during the closure, all classrooms and student areas will be deep cleaned and/or disinfected.
“The decision to close our schools is never an easy decision and is not made lightly,” the district said on its Facebook page. “It is our hope that this closure will allow time for teachers, staff and students to recover.”
Pflugerville Independent School District also announced schools and offices will be closed Monday, the district said in a letter.
School leaders said staff members are out with COVID-19, and those remaining can’t properly cover classes, saying “the staff shortage has overwhelmed the district to the point that this closure is necessary.” PfISD said it does have additional minutes built into its schedule to accommodate for closures, and it won’t have to use its weather makeup days.
“It is important to stress that this is not a break or holiday, and we encourage everyone to stay home as much as possible. Remember, the last extended break led to this current surge. Please do not use this time to plan a trip or spend extended periods of time with people outside of your usual circle,” the district said.
Lockhart ISD announced Friday they will be closed Monday, Jan. 24 through Tuesday, Jan. 25. The two days will not have to be made up, the superintendent said.
“At the moment, we have 671 students in quarantine. A total of 91 staff are currently out for COVID-19-related reasons,” a letter to parents and staff on the website said.
The announcement noted its not just teacher roles where the district is seeing gaps, they also have them in transportation, clinics and after school programs.
Health leaders asking parents to vaccinate eligible kids
Local health leaders are painting a grim picture of the impacts the omicron variant has on children, saying more kids are showing up at Austin-area hospitals with COVID-19 than ever before.
Roughly 90% of kids admitted to pediatric hospitals were unvaccinated, which has “been the trend for the last several weeks,” explained Dr. Desmar Walkes, the Austin-Travis County health authority.
Everyone ages five and older are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine right now. Federal officials approved a child-sized vaccine for 5 to 11-year-old kids in November.
Still, APH reports only 26% of local kids in the 5-11 range have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“This is an important time to get their child vaccinated,” Cassandra DeLeon, APH’s chief administrative officer for disease prevention and health promotion, pleaded with parents Friday. She noted many parents locally had said they wanted to wait to see how the vaccine rollout went for kids.
‘We’ve now delivered millions of doses of vaccine to children in a safe way,” she said.
Anyone over the age of 12 is eligible to get a booster shot at least five months after their initial round of shots.
You can find a COVID-19 vaccine on Austin Public Health’s website here.