When will Fort Worth-area schools reopen? Are closures really helping curb COVID?

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Several Tarrant County school districts shut down last week due to high numbers of COVID-19 among students and staff. Some schools faced staff shortages.

Fort Worth ISD and Arlington ISD didn’t temporarily close.

Among the other districts that did, here’s the latest on their status.

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Schools opening Wednesday, Jan. 19

Mansfield ISD: The district closed all schools from Friday, Jan. 14, through Tuesday, Jan. 18, because of the high number of COVID cases among staff and students. Students return to classes on Wednesday. As of Tuesday, the district reported 825 active student cases and 269 active staff cases.

White Settlement ISD: Schools will be closed through Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Northwest ISD: All campuses are closed through Tuesday, Jan. 18, because of a staff shortage. Students will return Wednesday. As of Tuesday, there were 1,170 active COVID cases.

Schools opening Thursday, Jan. 20

Birdsville ISD: After the long weekend, Birdsville ISD is closed Tuesday, Jan. 18, and Wednesday, Jan. 19. Classes resume on Thursday. In the week ending Jan. 15, the district reported 709 new student COVID cases and 162 new staff cases.

Mesquite ISD: The district announced its schools will be closed through Jan. 19. Between Jan. 3 and 9, the district reported 541 students and 277 staff members with COVID.

Schools opening Monday, Jan. 24

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD: Elementary classes with a high COVID positivity rate will be remote learning through Friday, Jan. 21. They’ll return to school on Monday, Jan. 24.

Will temporary school closures help curb the spread of the omicron variant?

“Judicious closures when levels are high within your school community and/or your community, I think it stands to slow the rate of transmission,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, a physician at Baylor Scott and White. “Is it an end all be all? Is it the fix? No.”

Will it stop the spread of omicron? Not entirely, he said.

“You can think about a sprinter who’s trying to run a marathon. If they start in a sprinting mode, they’re going to fail, they’re going to burn out, and they’ll be in big trouble and never finish the race,” Casanova said.

As school districts try to figure out how to run the marathon, closures are one of several tools they can use to dampen the rate of COVID transmission so it’s more manageable for schools. It should either reduce the number of cases, or spread the same number of cases out over a longer period.

Other vital tools, Casanova said, are consistent masking in schools and getting kids 5 and older vaccinated as soon as possible.

Casanova suggests parents encourage frequent hand-washing and good hygiene, and try to limit family activities outside the house.

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