COVID-19 outbreak forces Richardson ISD school to return to virtual learning

There is growing evidence that the new strain of the coronavirus may be able to sneak around existing vaccines.

Students at Big Springs Elementary School in Garland are switching to virtual learning to close out the semester.

The Richardson Independent School District said 24 students and staff at the campus have tested positive for the virus since Monday.

Administrators said 30% of the staff called in sick on Tuesday.

COVID-19 outbreaks are posing problems if different parts of the country as well.

Just since the first case of the omicron variant was confirmed in the United States, it’s now been detected in 36 states. 

RELATED: Omicron surge: Medical surveillance can't keep up with rate variant is spreading

There's no firm evidence that it's widespread in Texas but hospitalizations in some parts of the state are ticking up.

New models from the data scientists at UT Southwestern show Dallas County for example could see another wave of hospitalizations early next year if current measures continue.

An expert at UNT’s Health Science Center said given all the current trends, people still need to think about their safety.

"So that’s the best option right now for the majority of Americans is to get the vaccine, and to get the booster if they already have the vaccine.  It would make sure that their immune system is a little bit stronger and better equipped to defend against this variant," said Dr. Shane Ferando, a clinical epidemiologist.

RELATED: Denton County reports first omicron variant case; pediatric hospitalizations rising

There are hints that omicron may cause less severe disease in those who become infected, but researchers say it’s still too early to know for sure.

The University of Texas is due to publish new data Thursday on the omicron variant, looking at different scenarios going forward.

The data may show a surge in cases like with the delta variant. A worst-case scenario would predict a wave that overruns hospitals.

Meanwhile, the students at Big Springs Elementary will return to in-person learning on Jan. 4 after the winter break.