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LIST: Schools canceling classes amid omicron surge

Hutto, Marble Falls and Pflugerville ISD have all announced cancellations.

MARBLE FALLS, Texas — As Central Texas grapples with staffing shortages, student absences and more due to the current COVID-19 surge, we will continue to update this story with class closure announcements.

Hutto ISD

The district will be closing campuses from Jan. 17 to Jan. 19.

"Despite our best efforts to keep our campuses operating safely, the number of staff who are out with COVID-19 has overwhelmed our school district," the district said.

RELATED: Hutto ISD canceling bus routes due to COVID-related staffing shortages

Jarrell ISD

On Jan. 18, the district announced it would be closing all campuses for the remainder of the week.

Johnson City ISD

The district is cancelling school Monday, Jan. 17, and Tuesday, Jan. 18, due to a high rate of faculty and staffing testing positive.

Read more here.

Lago Vista ISD

Classes are canceled for Lago Vista High School and Lago Vista Middle School on Tuesday, Jan. 18 and Wednesday, Jan. 19, officials announced on Facebook.

Staff will report in-person as normal. Students in grades 6 through 12 will return on Thursday, Jan. 20.

Here is the full letter sent to students and parents:  

January 17, 2022

Dear Viking Students, Parents, and Staff:

Despite our best efforts to keep our campuses appropriately staffed to ensure adequate supervision and safe operations, the number of staff absences is greater than the number of available substitutes and staff members needed for coverage. As a result, Lago Vista High School and Lago Vista Middle School will be closed to students on Tuesday, January 18 and Wednesday, January 19. Staff will report in-person as normal. Students in grades 6-12 will return on Thursday, January 20.

Due to the longer school day, our secondary campuses have significantly more instructional minutes for the year and are able to be closed for instruction without impacting the school calendar (including much needed days for inclement weather).  During these two days, the District will reorganize our staffing to provide qualified employees in each PK-5 classroom, which will allow us to continue providing teaching and learning for our youngest learners while also preventing our elementary parents from having to scramble to secure childcare.

As our secondary campuses will be closed for instruction, remote conferencing for students in grades 6-12 will not be provided on Tuesday, January 18 and Wednesday, January 19.  

CLARIFICATION ABOUT REMOTE/VIRTUAL LEARNING 

Virtual or remote learning is not an option for our school district. It is only available for students who are out sick with COVID-19 or are out for extended periods. However, while remote learning is not an option during these closures, it is still our goal to do as much as we can for every student.  As such, our secondary campuses will have staff members available to provide additional extension and remediation during these days.  Our secondary campus principals will send out additional information on these opportunities later today.

EXTRACURRICULAR EVENTS & ACTIVITIES 

All UIL extracurricular events and activities will continue as scheduled, as long as coaches and students are healthy.

TRANSPORTATION

In addition to staff shortages, we are also experiencing shortages with bus drivers.  During the two days of closure at Lago Vista High School and Lago Vista Middle School, staff members with appropriate licensure and experience will also assist with providing elementary and intermediate bus routes, as needed.  Transportation services are expected to resume as normal for students in grades 6-12 on Thursday, January 20.

FOOD SERVICE

During the two days of closure at Lago Vista High School and Lago Vista Middle School, cafeteria staff members will be shifted in order to cover absences.  Meal service for students in grades 6-12 will be available for pickup at Lago Vista High School between 7:30-9:30am.  Please email Jennifer Porter at jennifer_porter@lagovista.txed.net to request meal service.  

COVID-19 MITIGATION EFFORTS

We continue to strongly encourage staff and students to wear masks in situations where social distancing is not possible. Please continue to monitor your children for symptoms of COVID-19 and keep your students home if they are unwell.  Notify your campus nurse if your child tests positive for COVID-19 or develops any symptoms of COVID-19.

We will continue to update you on this situation and appreciate your continued support and understanding of the incredibly difficult decisions we have had to make.

Lexington ISD

Lexington ISD officials said schools and offices would be closed on Friday, Jan. 21 and Monday, Jan. 24. School will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 25, officials said. All scheduled UIL activities will continue as planned. 

Liberty Hill ISD

Liberty Hill ISD officials said school would be closed for Thursday, Jan. 20, and Friday, Jan. 21. The district said all LHISD campuses will reopen and resume operation on Monday, Jan. 24.

Lockhart ISD

The district announced in a letter published online on Jan. 21 that it will be closing down Monday, Jan. 24, and Tuesday, Jan. 25, due to absences related to COVID-19. To learn more, click here.

Marble Falls ISD

Classes are now canceled on Friday, Jan. 14, for Marble Falls ISD as the district reports a surge in "viral infections" that have led to a staffing shortage. 

The announcement did not specifically state the infections were related to COVID-19, but it is the first school district in the area to announce a closure caused by infections as the omicron variant causes case numbers to skyrocket.

"We are saddened by the need to take this step, but MFISD does not have enough available staff to monitor students and maintain safe school environments," the district said in a Facebook post.

School is set to be out on Monday, Jan. 17, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so classes won't resume until Jan. 18.

Extracurricular activities will continue as scheduled, unless parents or students receive word from coaches or directors that indicate otherwise, according to MFISD. Information about student meals at campuses will be announced later. 

Due to staff shortages caused by a surge in viral infections, Marble Falls ISD campuses will be closed on Friday,...

Posted by Marble Falls ISD on Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Pflugerville ISD

All Pflugerville ISD schools and offices will be closed Friday, Jan. 21, and Monday, Jan. 24.

"We have had teachers and staff cover classes on their campuses, and are having central administration staff work as substitutes again," the district said in an update on Jan. 19. "Still, the staff shortage has overwhelmed the district to the point that this closure is necessary."

The school district said all high school UIL athletic and fine arts events will continue as scheduled, as canceling could prompt forfeits and adversely affect students and their standings. Capacity at all events will be limited.

Those interested in serving as substitutes can apply through the Pflugerville ISD website. Substitutes must have a high school diploma and attend an orientation before working on a campus.

"In my 30 years in education, this is the highest number of vacancies I’ve seen at this point in the school year," Superintendent Dr. Douglas Killian said. "Despite our exhaustive efforts to recruit workers in the various areas, we’re just not seeing the applicants. If you or someone you know is looking for a job – we’re hiring. If you have a bachelor’s degree, we will work with you to obtain your teaching certificate. It takes a lot of personnel working together in various capacities to provide an education to our children, and we’re happy to see where you could fit in."

Smithville ISD

All Smithville ISD schools will be closed Friday, Jan. 21 due to a staffing shortage, according to the district. 

"The high number of staff who are out, combined with a shortage of substitute teachers, is putting a strain on our day-to-day operations that it is currently not possible to provide a safe, productive learning environment for our students and staff," the district said in a Facebook post.

Classes will resume on Monday, Jan. 24 if enough staff are available.

All extracurricular activities scheduled for Jan. 20 through Jan. 22 are not impacted by the closure. 

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