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Round Rock ISD students planning walkout over lack of virtual learning amid omicron surge

Virtual learning options are currently limited for Texas schools who wish to receive state funding.

ROUND ROCK, Texas — Hundreds of Round Rock ISD students have signed a petition requesting that the district offer remote learning amid the current COVID-19 surge, which has been credited to the omicron variant. If their goals are not met, they plan to stage a walkout on the morning of Jan. 20.

"The students of Round Rock ISD no longer feel comfortable going to school as cases of COVID-19 soar," the petition states. "With the highly contagious omicron variant, it’s clear measures currently in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 aren’t working. If the district can’t create a safe learning environment, we must shift to remote learning until cases go down again."

In the petition, students claim that close contacts are not being tracked, the district's mask mandate is not being enforced, and students don't have access to recommended masks and COVID testing. They also claim that the district is lacking in substitutes, causing multiple classes to gather in one space, as well as causing teachers to give up their conference periods to fill in as subs.

A spokesperson with Round Rock ISD sent KVUE a statement regarding the petition and potential walkout. 

"We understand the students' concerns and we are doing everything within our power to mitigate the spread and deal with this current challenge. Keeping our schools open is critical for many in our community who depend on resources provided by the school on a daily basis," the statement read.

According to current law in the state of Texas, state funding is currently mandated by school attendance. Unlike earlier in the pandemic, virtual learning is no longer fully supported in order to receive funding.

On Monday, Round Rock ISD had 7,920 student absences, which is approximately 16.5% of its student population. The district also had 547 teachers, librarians and nurses absent, which is approximately 16% of that employee population.

RRISD is not the only entity struggling amid the highly contagious omicron surge. School districts and business across the Central Texas area are also experiencing similar absences and staffing shortages credited to the virus.

For more information the district's COVID-19 tracking, visit the RRISD COVID-19 dashboard.

KVUE has reached out to RRISD for a response to the petition. This story will be updated if a statement is received.

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