North Texas school districts prepare for potential post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 outbreaks

North Texas school districts are closely monitoring students and staff returning to in-person learning after a Thanksgiving break that saw the largest number of travelers since the pandemic began.

Officials say they’re prepared to tackle any COVID-19 outbreaks that may pop up between now and Christmas break.

Students in Crowley ISD — south of Fort Worth — returned to school Monday. There was unanticipated extra time at home remote learning last week after dozens of students and staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Other districts, like Terrell ISD, extended the holiday by a week because of a spike in cases.

Dallas ISD has about half of its 154,000 student population returning to in-person learning this week.

“As educators we make sure that we are always prepared and so there we are, ready to welcome back all of our students,” said Robyn Harris, Dallas ISD spokeswoman.

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A rise in cases does not mean the district is considering districtwide virtual learning. But it does mean parents may see targeted efforts at certain schools if there’s an outbreak.

One tool — utilizing recently acquired rapid test kits.

“We are able to mobilize teams throughout the district if we're seeing, maybe, or hearing that there are some concerns at a campus. And not only does it allay some of the fears, it better informs us on what could be happening at a campus,” Harris said.

Like among what population — students, staff or administration — cases are concentrated. If they’re concentrated among teachers and staffing becomes an issue, it could lead to that school switching to remote learning.

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Ft. Worth ISD says it too is watching its case numbers closely. Arlington ISD says it continued contact tracing efforts through the holiday to keep students and staff well informed.

Administrators say extra vigilance as students return will make all the difference and say if there's any question a student or staff member is sick, they say please stay home.

“It’s not just one person who holds that responsibility, but it is absolutely a shared responsibility,” Harris said.


Crowley ISD set to return to in-person learning Monday

Terrell ISD extends Thanksgiving break to avoid COVID-19 outbreak