Schools Prepare as COVID-19 Cases Nearly Triple in Texas in Last 3 Weeks

Many North Texas schools are doing what they can to stop the spread of COVID on campus.

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School leaders and health experts all agree – students are best served academically in school.

But what happens when the spread of COVID-19 gets out of control?

Many North Texas schools are doing what they can to stop the spread of COVID on campus.

The latest information from the Texas Education Agency shows an alarming increase in cases across the state over the past month.

There are more than 51,000 student COVID cases in the state so far since they started tracking on August 13. That number  is way up from the 18,000 recorded just two weeks ago.

There are also more than 13,000 staff cases.

This data includes numbers through Aug. 29. We will provide an update once those numbers update after the Labor Day holiday.

In Richardson ISD, a surge of sick students and quarantines led to the closure of Brentfield Elementary school for 10 days. Starting Tuesday, those students will return to virtual learning for the time being.

The district said they consulted with city and county doctors, who advised it's best to close the school to help stop further spread.

The district held an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the closure and to vote on the current mask mandate.

Despite some opposition, they voted to that mask mandate and safety protocols like contact tracing in place.

Board members also heard from the district's nursing director about the challenges they're facing across RISD, including reports of defiant parents.

"We've heard from several schools where parents are binding together and not testing on purpose. They don't want to let us know that they're positive,” said RISD Director of Nursing, Ashley Jones. “We're also getting feedback that they're sending their kids symptomatic. We know this. They're not testing for like seven days into an illness and then they're becoming positive which has spread COVID for those seven days on our campus."

The TEA reports more than four dozen school districts are temporarily closed for in-person learning because of a surge of COVID-19 cases.

This includes two DeSoto ISD campuses, which went virtual last week. The district said last week that the schools plan to go back to in-person learning on Tuesday, as long as there are enough healthy staff members.

School districts in East Texas have also been hit hard by COVID-19. More than 20 districts closed for several days to deep clean classrooms. A majority are scheduled to reopen on Tuesday.

This also all comes amid a recent survey funded by the CDC, showing that more parents are starting to feel leery about full time in-person instruction.

The survey and listening sessions, which included parents and guardians with children in grades K-12 in public schools, were conducted by Edge Research in partnership with HCM Strategists and were supported by the CDC Foundation. The findings were released last Wednesday through the National Parent Teacher Association.

Key findings of the survey show:

  • 50% of parents want their child to attend school in person this fall instead of hybrid or virtually. That number decreased after the CDC’s mask guidance was updated on July 27 and is also lower among Black and Latino/a parents.
  • About one quarter of parents feel very comfortable sending their children back to school this fall. Notably, white parents were significantly more comfortable with having their child return than Black or Latino/a Hispanic parents.
  • Parents are most concerned about their children contracting COVID-19 at school and future disruptions resulting in a return to remote learning.
  • To keep children safe at school, parents rank children staying home when they are sick, cleaning and disinfecting, and handwashing as highest priorities. There is less consensus among parents around vaccines.

Key takeaways from the listening sessions reveal:

  • Parents recognize the benefits of in-person learning, but many are conflicted about sending their children back due to the health risks.
  • Parents, especially parents of color, expressed distrust in districts and schools to implement safety precautions with fidelity. And parents overall, do not trust other parents to keep their kids home when they are sick or to follow precautions.
  • Parents respect vaccine choice and have concerns about stigmatizing of students based on vaccine status. Therefore, they want precautions in schools to apply universally to all students.

Click here to read more about the survey from NBC News.

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