North Texas school districts make changes to COVID-19 protocols as cases surge

The omicron spike is affecting North Texas schools, with students and teachers having to call out sick.

Several North Texas school districts are re-evaluating their isolation period for COVID positive cases.

Dallas reduced its isolation period to five days, and Fort Worth also changed it to five earlier this week.

But for many parents right now, the problem is getting their child tested for COVID-19 just a few days into the new semester.

"I have been hearing crazy stuff. People can’t get tested," Mesquite mother, Tamatha Powell, said.

Friday afternoon, Powell and her girls planned to get tested for COVID-19 at the Mesquite ISD testing site, but they and many other families discovered there wasn't enough supply to meet the demand.

"They aren’t taking anybody else," Powell said.

"They are all booked up right now," Christina Munoz said.

In Dallas, multiple drive-thru testing sites opened this week, including the Samuell Grand Aquatics Center.

RELATED: Dallas County opening additional COVID-19 testing locations

It’s a joint effort put on by Dallas County Health and Human Services and Dallas ISD. 

"Yeah, it’s very efficient," said Claire Jordan, who got tested Friday.

Friday, Dallas ISD also announced it is condensing its quarantine period for all positive cases from 10 days to five days, following the recent guideline changes by the CDC.

Dallas ISD said nearly 15% of its 150,000 students are not in school as of Thursday.

For now, the Texas Education Agency is sticking with its recommendation of a 10-day isolation period for students who test positive.

However, Friday, the TEA updated its guidelines for infected staff, saying staff members who aren’t experiencing symptoms can now only isolate for five days. 

Dallas ISD’s mask mandate will stay through spring break. 

RELATED: Dallas ISD extends mask mandate, Lancaster ISD students to learn remotely due to omicron variant

Schools coronavirus USA

FILE - A poster from the CDC in the hallway that says, "Please wear a cloth face covering" and "Maintain a distance of 6 feet whenever possible." (Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

Richardson ISD is following suit, renewing its mask mandate at least through the end of the month.

Before the winter break, the district said it was going to drop the requirement when students returned.

RELATED: Richardson ISD keeping mask mandate in place at its schools

"And then you look at Arlington, it’s nothing but crickets," Arlington mother of two, Charly Graves, said.

Graves said she’s been closely monitoring surrounding districts. 

"I am sending my kids off to school and hoping for the best," she said.

Lancaster ISD started the new semester with remote learning only this week, but announced Friday schools that will return to in-person learning on Monday.

For Fort Worth ISD, the number of students starting the new year off in quarantine is skyrocketing. 

Fort Worth said 88% of its teachers are present after the first week back. 

Meanwhile, in Mesquite, parents like Powell are preparing to wake up early Saturday morning just to try to get a test again.

"I just pray that my kids don’t get it," Powell said. "It’s just rough right now, you know?"