HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — The Hutto Independent School District will be forced to close for three days next week as hundreds of staff members are absent, most with COVID-19.
The district will close all campus activities Jan. 17-19, Chief Superintendent Celina Estrada Thomas said: in a letter to the school community. Students and staff are expected to return on Thursday 20 January.
Thomas said Friday it had more than 200 employees, with 160 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There were also more than 1,680 students, with 545 confirmed cases.
“Our goal with a two-day shutdown is to give our staff and students time to get healthy enough to return to teaching and learning,” Thomas said in the letter.
She also clarified that distance learning is currently not an option for Hutto ISD. The time does not count towards learning minutes or as a learning day for teachers if a campus or the entire neighborhood is closed due to staff shortages. Virtual classes are only available to students who are sick with COVID-19 or are absent for an extended period of time.
The district asks parents to send their students to school with masks and encourages staff to wear one too. Vaccines are also recommended, with Hutto ISD hosting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Kerley Elementary School on Feb. 2 from 4-8pm
Bus routes are changing
While UIL high school athletic events are expected to continue as normal (as long as coaches and students are healthy), transportation services will return on Jan. 20 with changes, affecting “the majority of students.” Students affected by a changed route will be notified via Drive 360the district said.
Hutto ISD said to expect delays or earlier pick-up times, with delays more likely to occur on afternoon routes. Delays can be up to 45 minutes to an hour. There will also be no bus service to the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) or River Horse Academy (RHA).
Parents can still choose to drive their children to and from school, but the district is asking parents to be patient as there can be traffic jams on campuses.
Affected food services
Menu options will be limited next week due to staff shortages in the cafeteria, the district said. Hutto ISD ensures that all children are fed and that there is no shortage of food – just not all regular meal options may be available.
Neighborhood asks for volunteers
Hutto ISD said it welcomes volunteers who have completed its application online to help with coverage. Volunteers must screen for symptoms upon arrival at school and wear a mask. The neighborhood points to her volunteer page on her website if you need more information.