AUSTIN (KXAN) — As students and teachers return to the classroom across Central Texas, COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant continue to surge.
Doctors say this variant spreads easier than any we have seen, and this has some parents in Austin Independent School District worried about a return to the classroom.
“Starting out school virtually right now is the best decision,” said Nancy Thompson. “Let’s get a handle of this. Let’s get it under control and let’s see what the situation is.”
Monti Pal, another concerned parent, hopes to see some changes.
“I am concerned about community spread,” Pal said. “I am concerned about teachers. I am concerned about indoor lunch.”
AISD resumed testing at its 11 COVID-19 testing hubs two days before school started. Alana Bejarano, director of health services with AISD, said after the first day it received a number of positive cases.
“About a third of the community that has been tested is positive,” Bejarano said.
On the first day of testing Monday, about 1,200 students, staff and family members were tested.
“And that is so concerning to me because that means we are sending our kids back when likely many of the students and teachers will have this virus,” said Mariette Hummel.
Hummel along with about 50 parents sent their concerns to the district. They are asking for a delayed start, outdoor lunches if not already offered and a virtual option for students.
“What is so concerning about omicron is it is so contagious,” Hummel said.
The district has added extra ventilation to classrooms, it is cleaning and sanitizing high touch areas and social distancing is still required. It also require masks to be worn on all campuses.
“As you can see I am wearing an N95 with a covering over it,” Bejarano said. “Double masking is the best option.”
“If there are some parents, some teachers who are ok with the measures that are in place then we don’t want to tell them what to think, but for our families we do want to have those options,” Hummel said.
AISD says it tested more than 2,600 students, staff and family members during the two-day clinics. There were 384 positive test results.
As for testing, the district has 11 testing hubs set up for staff and students.