Abilene ISD to reopen schools after closure due to spike in COVID-19 cases

·2 min read

Abilene Independent School District will return to normal school operations Wednesday after COVID-19-related staff shortages prompted a closure last week.

"The district has determined that it will have sufficient numbers of staff to return to a normal schedule," AISD Superintendent Dr. David Young said in an announcement to parents Tuesday afternoon.

The district surveyed employees Tuesday and expects to have about 300 staff members absent Wednesday, which is manageable, Young said.

Early last week he said the district was going to stay open as long as enough staff was available. But the district reached a tipping point Thursday afternoon, when it expected to have more than 470 staff members out Friday, he said.

"We just could not do that," Young said.

The public was notified early Thursday evening that classes were cancelled through Tuesday.

Closing schools allowed the district to capitalize on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, giving "people five solid days to stay home, stay healthy or get healthy," Young said.

As part of the reopening, parents and guardians will not be permitted to visit the campus or eat meals with their children inside the buildings, a restriction that was implemented at the beginning of the school year and lifted weeks ago.

"We hope that that is a short-term adjustment," Young said about barring campus visitors.

The decision will be reconsidered Feb. 4, based on COVID-19 conditions in the district and community and advice from medical advisors, he said.

The district's school calendar has enough extra instructional minutes to equal four days, so the district as of now does not have to make up for the two closed days, Young said.

During the closure, school buildings underwent normal cleaning and sanitation, Young said.

"We know that some additional work has been done even between now and then to prepare for students and staff," Young said.

More: Abilene Cooper boys basketball team postpones game versus Lubbock Coronado because of COVID-19

During closure, some school sports and other extracurricular events continued. But all Cooper boys basketball games Tuesday were postponed due to COVID-19.

More: Abilene ISD closes schools due to staff shortages during COVID-19 spike

Laura Gutschke is a general assignment reporter and food columnist and manages online content for the Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Abilene ISD plans return to classrooms after COVID-19 closure

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