Richardson ISD campus returns to distance learning, administrators hold emergency meeting on future school closures
RICHARDSON, Texas – Several school districts in North Texas are facing an increase in COVID-19 cases on their campuses, forcing some to refer students to distance learning.
The Richardson ISD School Board held an emergency meeting on Friday morning to talk about an increase in COVID-19 cases in the district. They fear that several campuses will be forced to close like Brentfield Elementary did this week.
Almost a quarter of Brentfield students were absent this week because they tested positive for COVID-19 or were quarantined. The administrators have decided to keep the courses online until the campus reopens in 10 days.
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The school board heard from parents who were passionate about the district’s mask mandate, as well as online learning. They also heard from working parents angry about the sudden shutdown.
“The whole message around this situation has left it up to the parents to decide. And as you can see, parents outside of school don’t hide themselves, they don’t take precautions. They send the children away. at school with Covid, ”he said. said the parent.
“The nurse I called and spoke to couldn’t tell me when – maybe late last week, maybe Monday – or how she was exposed, or if she was close contact, but hopefully the HIV positive child would call or text their friends. and let them know. That can’t be how it works, “said a mother whose daughter secondary age is currently in quarantine.
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“You all said kids are falling behind because of virtual learning and it has failed, so why do we want to come back to this?” another parent argued.
“What if the parents can’t keep their jobs? How do we feed our children? How do we keep the light above our heads? You guys are serious things we have to think about when you decide on a whim to close a school. Not everyone has a job as a stay-at-home mom, okay? Some of us have to work, ”said one parent.
After listening to 30 minutes of passionate public commentary from parents, the Richardson ISD board of directors discussed the increasing rate of COVID infection across the district on Friday.
Superintendent Jeanie Stone firmly maintains that safety is the priority.
“We are doing everything we can to keep children in school and to meet the needs of all of our students, although some of our parents and constituents may disagree on either side. “she said.
“We saw 537 student cases, as you can see, that’s a significant amount to process in 13 days,” said Ashley Jones, director of health services for Richardson ISD.
To put that number into perspective, Jones said there were 1,854 total positive student cases last school year.
Brentfield Elementary School is seen as a hot spot after 25% of students were absent on Wednesday.
The school was brutally closed for 10 days starting Friday after consulting with Dallas County Health and Care Services.
Students will learn virtually.
“As of last night, we have 29 positives in the past 10 days on this campus,” Jones said.
Jones also expressed concern about the increase in COVID cases at six other campuses, including Bowie, where there were seven positive cases in a classroom.
“We currently have a 6th grade student in ICU. We have to be careful about that stuff,” she said.
RELATED: 2 Texas teachers die from COVID-19, causing school district to close
After public comments, council members heard from the Department of Health Services.
“Many of the comments previously made this morning show a limited understanding of the science and the control and transmission of infections,” a doctor told board members. “The evidence is clear that mandatory masking is an essential part of a multi-level strategy to protect the health and safety of students and staff, reduce the transmission of COVID, and keep schools open. “
The board has entered into executive session and has made no decision on closing other campuses yet, but reaffirmed the district’s commitment to continue to mask to help keep children in school and open campuses.
“I think right now it’s the most responsible thing to do so that we can change quickly if we need to,” said Megan Timme, RISD board member.
“We need to stay focused on keeping a student with a teacher in a classroom,” said Chris Poteet, RISD board member.
“A special thank you to our parents for your support and understanding as we move through this phase of the pandemic,” said RISD Board Chair Karen Clardy.
They will reassess the date at their next meeting on October 4.
The school board has asked the principal to provide them with an update on the COVID numbers and health issues at their next meeting.