ARGYLE, Texas – Dozens of North Texas school districts are now temporarily closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
The list includes ISDs from Argyle, Forney, Kaufman, Mansfield, and Northwest.
Mansfield had canceled classes at six elementary schools for Thursday, but now starting Friday, the entire district has extra time off during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
In Argyle, nearly one in five staff members is ill. The district said they have stretched too thin, canceling the class for Friday.
Argyle and now several other districts are hoping a long weekend will help.
Across North Texas, significant staff shortages in school districts continue to drive widespread closures.
In late Thursday, Mansfield ISD, which has more than 35,000 students, announced it was closing all campuses until at least Tuesday due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.
Earlier, Mansfield closed a select number of primary schools on Wednesday.
But with 750 active student cases and 195 active employee cases, the district said it is tense and unable to provide a safe, productive learning environment.
Mansfield hopes five days off will help with recovery time and reduce the spread.
On Thursday, Kaufman told ISD it is also being hit hard by absences, causing classes to be canceled on Friday.
Northwest ISD is now doing the same, along with Argyle ISD.
“I was like, it’s just a matter of time,” said Argyle mom Stacy Green.
Green said she’s fine with the four-day weekend, with MLK Day on Monday.
“I feel like now is a good time to clean the facility and give the teachers a little rest,” she added.
Her 8-year-old son’s school, Hilltop Elementary, is a hot spot for COVID cases in Argyle.
40% of Hilltop employees are actively ill.
“We’ve been working on this all week,” said Argyle ISD Superintendent Dr. Telena Wright.
Wright said as of Thursday morning, more than 100 of its 560 employees work across the district. She said she tried to combine certain classes and even pay teachers extra to work their conference period.
“If we can’t adequately cover our lessons with our assistants, our subs, pulling our librarians, our counselors, our administration, all the employees that we have, then we can’t cover our lessons anymore,” Wright explained.
Meanwhile, the extracurricular activities are still going on as their second week back from winter break is now being shortened.
“We’re just trying to stay on track as best we can, but I mean it’s hard,” Green added.
There are 4,300 students enrolled in Argyle ISD, and 15% were absent Thursday morning, which Dr. Wright forced to call.
They are sticking to the five-day staff quarantine period and will re-evaluate where they are on Tuesday, while also actively looking for more subs.