North Texas districts hoping COVID-19 closures bring down case number after MLK Day

There are now dozens of North Texas school districts temporarily closing because of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The list includes Argyle, Forney, Kaufman, Mansfield, and Northwest ISDs.

Mansfield had canceled classes at six elementary schools for Thursday, but now starting Friday, the entire district will have extended time off over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

In Argyle, almost one in five staff members are out sick. The district said they are stretched too thin, canceling class for Friday. 

Argyle, along with now several more districts, are hoping a long weekend will help. 

Across North Texas, significant staffing shortages within school districts continue to cause widespread closures. 

LIST: Dozens of North Texas districts closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks

Late Thursday, Mansfield ISD, with more than 35,000 students, announced it is shutting down all campuses through at least Tuesday due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. 

Previously, Mansfield closed a select six elementary schools on Wednesday.

But with 750 active student cases and 195 active employee cases, the district said it is strained and unable to provide a safe, productive learning environment. 

Mansfield is hoping five days off will help with recovery time and reducing the spread.

Thursday, Kaufman ISD said it's also heavily affected by absences, canceling class on Friday. 

Northwest ISD is now doing the same, along with Argyle ISD. 

"I was like, it’s just a matter of time," Argyle mother Stacy Green said.

Green said she’s fine with the four0day weekend, with MLK Day on Monday.

"I feel like it’s a great time just to clean the facility and give the teachers a little bit of a break," she added.

Her 8-year-old son’s school, Hilltop Elementary, is a hot spot for COVID cases in Argyle.

There are 40% of Hilltop’s employees who are actively sick. 

"All week, we have been working on this," Argyle ISD Superintendent Dr. Telena Wright said.

Wright said, as of Thursday morning, more than 100 out of her 560 employees are out districtwide.  She said she tried combining certain classes and even paying teachers extra to work their conference period. 

"When we can’t cover our classes adequately with our aides, our subs, with pulling our librarians, our counselors, our admin, all of the employees that we have, then we couldn’t cover our classes anymore," Wright explained.

Meanwhile, extra-curricular activities are still on as their second week back from winter break is now cut short. 

"We are trying to just stay on track the best we can, but I mean, it’s tough," Green added.

There are 4,300 students are enrolled in Argyle ISD, and 15% were absent Thursday morning, also forcing Dr. Wright to make the call.

They are sticking with the five-day quarantine time for staff and will re-evaluate where they are at on Tuesday while also actively looking for more subs.