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Education

North Texas school districts forced to close campuses amid omicron surge

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School districts across North Texas are closing campuses because of a rise in absences related to COVID-19.

Closures were announced this week in districts throughout the region

Rural and suburban school districts across North Texas have announced school closures Thursday and Friday because of a high rate of sick calls as the omicron surge continues.

The largest district that’s closing campuses is Mansfield ISD. The district announced Friday that it's closing all of its schools until Tuesday Jan. 18, according to a statement from the district.

The closures are due to COVID-related absences and a substitute teacher shortage, which has impacted urban districts as well as rural. Dallas ISD recently began offering a boost in pay for subs who can teach.

In Red Oak, south of Dallas, spokesperson Beth Trimble says cases are impacting faculty and district staff as well. She says the district will close campuses on Friday and hopes families will take advantage of the free time.

“While we know it's a day off, we hope they enjoy maybe a little time at the park and such, but we really wanted to continue to encourage our staff and our families to consider the best options for their personal safety,” Trimble said.

In other suburbs, Garland and Richardson ISD have both reported a shortage of bus drivers, according to WFAA.

Meanwhile, staff shortages in rural districts are being forced to close all campuses.

Todd Southard, superintendent of Pilot Point ISD, north of Denton, says the district is seeing high rates of teacher absences.

“It's very problematic when you have folks out and there's just simply no one there to take their place,” Southard said.

The following school districts announced campus closures: Mansfield, Red Oak (Friday only), Gainesville, Krum, Pilot Point, Boyd, Kemp, Maypearl and Venus.

Got a tip? Email Pablo Arauz Peña at parauzpena@kera.org

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