On January 2, Dr. Tatiana Prowell tweeted “In case no one has told you, the odds your kids will be at school in person in 2-3 wks in the US approach zero in most areas, no matter what your BOE or Governor decide about opening. There won’t be enough people well to run buses, lunches, clean, or teach. Plan now as a family.”
Dr. Prowell is an Associate Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins and has been actively tweeting about COVID-19 and the impact its having on society. This week as the case numbers in DFW have risen dramatically, businesses have temporarily closed, shortened hours, etc. And now schools are being impacted as many local school districts have closed for an extended weekend due to staffing shortages and student absences. While many chose to take Friday off with Monday being a holiday, some districts canceled classes today, with plans to return on Tuesday.
Tarrant County is seeing a rise in cases and hospitalizations with COVID-19 patients currently occupying 31% of the total hospital bed capacity. The county reported another record day of new cases with 9,957 new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday.
In Mansfield, administrators met this afternoon to assess the evolving situation and made the call to cancel classes tomorrow and resume on Wednesday. This gives students and staffs five days off campus to recover, isolate, quarantine or receive medical treatment. However, district officials are urging the community to be “cautious with their activities.” In other words, they want this to be a reset to stop the spread.
Here’s the letter from Mansfield ISD Superintendent Dr. Cantu:
Dear Mansfield ISD Community,
Despite our ongoing MISD health and safety protocols, we have seen a significant number of students and staff test positive for COVID-19 since the return from winter break. This increase mirrors what we are seeing throughout DFW and across the state.
As of yesterday, MISD had 750 students and 195 staff confirmed active COVID 19 cases reported. Confirmed positive cases are continuing to increase rapidly. In addition to those who have tested positive for COVID-19, we continue to have a large number of students and staff absent due to other illnesses or quarantining pending COVID-19 test results.
The high number of staff who are out, combined with a shortage of substitute teachers, is putting such a high strain on our day-to-day operations that it is currently not possible to provide a safe, productive learning environment for our students and staff.
We have made the difficult decision to close all Mansfield ISD schools and buildings from Friday, January 14 through Tuesday, January 18.
We intentionally chose a 5-day break to allow staff who are currently out sick to recover and to minimize the possibility of more community spread of the virus. MISD’s custodial staff will use this time to implement our COVID-19 deep cleaning protocol at all of our facilities.
Students WILL NOT be required to log on for virtual instruction. The Mansfield ISD district calendar has additional instructional minutes built in so students will not be required to make up these instructional days and will not be held responsible for missed instruction. However, if future closure days are needed, students may have to make up missed instructional minutes.
Please be advised that all high school UIL activities will continue as scheduled throughout this temporary closure.
We are asking students, staff and parents to be cautious with your activities during this time away from school. COVID-19 cases are increasing not just in our community but in neighboring areas as well.
MISD Student Nutrition Department will be providing curbside meal pickup on Tuesday, January 18 only from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Mary Jo Sheppard Elementary School (1701 FM 1187, Mansfield, TX. 76063), Della Icenhower Intermediate School (8100 Webb Ferrell Road, Arlington, TX. 76002) and Danny Jones Middle School (4500 East Broad Street, Mansfield, TX. 76063). Students are not required to be present, but those picking up meals will be asked to show a Mansfield ISD student ID or provide a student’s Skyward information. Meals will not be provided Friday through Monday.
If you or your student become symptomatic, please contact your physician. We ask any students or staff who have a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 to contact your school, supervisor or MISD’s Health Services Department at 817-299-6375.
We thank you for your continued support and look forward to having everyone back at school next week.
Dr. Kimberley Cantu
Superintendent of Schools
Of course, as noted, UIL activities are not canceled during this time period. Will this reset stop the spread or will more need to be done to keep campuses open?