More Schools Close Due to COVID-19 Cases

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More North Texas families are going into the weekend making plans for childcare as the number of schools closing next week due to COVID-19 cases increases.

Mesquite ISD announced Friday all campuses will remain closed until next Thursday over an ‘unprecedented’ number of staff members out sick with the virus.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the district said, ‘By adding this step today, we hope to give our families time to arrange for necessary childcare.’

The Grapevine Colleyville School District has directed any of its elementary classes with a 20% positivity rate or higher to quarantine through the end of next week, according to the district. So far, 14 classes have been affected. Students who are quarantined can join remote conferencing.

Area hospitals are also reporting a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Carla Carreno at Children’s Health says there are 78 children at Children’s Health in Dallas and Plano, many under the age of five and not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Our number of cases on December 12 were about 4% positivity rate,” she said. “Right now, we are at 33% positivity rate meaning 33% of our tests are positive.”

Carreno says that is the highest number of cases a Delta wave last summer.

The doctor advises children returning to classes to avoid large gatherings, wash their hands often and mask up.

“You may consider even upgrading that mask from that cloth mask to a higher level,” said Carreno. “An N-95 mask.”

There’s ongoing concern about how sudden disruptions to school-aged children’s lives may affect their mental health.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s kindergarten. It doesn’t matter if it’s a senior in high school, all of their realities have been rocked because a big part of who they are is school,” said Dr. Joseph Guillory, a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at UT Southwestern. “That’s where they get that productivity. ‘I made the grade.’ ‘I didn’t make the grade.’ ‘I went to the dance.’ ‘I didn’t go to the dance.’ All of these things make up their realities, their identities.”

Guillory’s urges parents or caregivers to make time to simply listen.

“Make space in the day where they can just talk and use their own language and you just listen. I think it’s a really big inclination of caregivers to then interject with their experience, but instead just hang back. Listen,” he said. “The reality is we’ve been here before, right? ‘So before, what helped you feel a little more connected? What helped you feel a little more successful academically? What didn’t?’”

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