districts

health

Rising coronavirus case numbers prompt some districts to go to remote learning

An increase of positive COVID-19 cases prompted a couple of area school districts to shift to remote learning for the next couple of weeks.

On Wednesday, Hart ISD and Silverton ISD joined Lockney ISD in moving students to remote learning over the last month. As of Friday morning, Lockney High School students were expected to return to the classroom on Monday.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in surrounding counties.

According to the Texas Department State Health Services’ virus dashboard, as of Thursday afternoon, Swisher County had 140 total cases (increase of 12 over the last week), Castro 289 (increase of 62), Lamb 491 (increase of 64) and Floyd County 121 (increase of two).


Of these reported total cases, Floyd County had 14 active cases, Lamb County 144, Castro County 28 and Swisher County 31.

The City of Lubbock’s COVID-19 numbers continued to show a strong increase over the last week. On Friday, Lubbock announced 16,602 total cases (up from 14,675 last week), 2,240 active cases, 14,189 recoveries (up from 12,518) and 21 additional deaths, a total of 173 deaths.

The Amarillo Public Health Department’s report that came out on Friday afternoon shows 12,302 total cases, which is up from 11,209 total cases last week. Active cases went from 3,509 to 4,032 and 154 deaths. These numbers reflect totals combined between Potter and Randall County.

On Oct. 16, Hart ISD announced it would get rid of remote learning on Jan. 5. One week later (Oct. 22), the district announced four new confirmed cases of coronavirus within the district and shifted to remote learning. Students are expected to return the classrooms on Nov. 2.

Silverton announced that two staff members had tested positive for the virus and that the district would be halting on-campus learning until Nov. 9.

In addition to the remote learning, Silverton and Hart also had to cancel some UIL activities until the districts return to in-person learning. Silverton canceled the remainder of its football season while Hart has canceled its next two games, though the Longhorns are hoping to play at least one more game.

Several schools posted detailed breakdowns of their COVID-19 situations throughout the district this week. These were posted to their respective Facebook pages.

Lockney ISD reported that the district had 13 positive cases and 160 students quarantined as of Tuesday. Of those total quarantined individuals, 92 of them were in the high school – 84 students and eight adults.

Lockney also issued a plea to parents and students to follow health guidelines so the district’s virus issues can improve.

“Whether you agree, disagree, or are indifferent to the whole COVID mess is irrelevant at this point,” the Lockney ISD Facebook post stated. “We can either comply with the rules set before us or we can kiss football, basketball, and any other activities that our kids enjoy goodbye.”

Lockney’s football schedule has already shifted multiple times since the beginning of school in Aug. The Longhorns have clinched a playoff spot though there remains the

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health

Back to school: Many large districts are opening doors again

Trepidation about the pandemic persists. In many cities, coronavirus infection rates are rising, which could prompt school leaders to reverse plans. Some classrooms and even entire schools have opened and had to close again in response to outbreaks. In some cities, opposition from teachers unions has slowed efforts to open buildings.

But overall, the trend is now toward more in-person school.

Of the 50 largest school districts, 24 have resumed in-person classes for large groups of students, and nine others plan to in the coming weeks, according to a Washington Post survey. An additional four have opened, or plan to open, for small groups of students who need extra attention.

Many are in Florida and Texas, where Republican governors are requiring in-person classes, but schools are also open in New York City, Greenville, S.C., and Alpine, Utah, the state’s largest district. Returns are planned in Charlotte, Baltimore and Denver.

Just 11 of the largest 50 school districts are still fully remote, with no immediate plans to change that.

“I think everybody’s quite worried about what the price is that we’ve paid for having the buildings closed,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of Great City Schools, a lobbying group for urban districts. He said the biggest drivers are concern over substantial “learning loss” and a sense that even though remote education is better than it was in the spring, it still is not working well enough.

Officials also worry because some students are simply not showing up to remote classes, with attendance figures down in many places.

Casserly said many educators worry that “we are going to dig ourselves a hole that is so deep that it takes us years and years to get out of.”

The trend is evident, too, in tracking by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington at Bothell. In the beginning of September, 24 of 106 mostly urban districts were open for at least some in-person school. By the end of October, that will rise to 69 out of 106, assuming districts stick with their announced plans.

“Parents are very, very eager to get their kids back to school. Students are very eager to get back to school,” said Robin Lake, the center’s director.

Assessing infection rates

In many districts, including in suburban Washington and the District of Columbia, students are being phased back into school, often starting with the youngest because online learning is so difficult for them. That’s also the approach in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, which is using a hybrid system in which students are on campus on certain days and online on others.

Superintendent Earnest Winston said it’s the right move because children learn best in person, but he worries as he sees infection rates rising. For the first time since late July, the tally of newly reported coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 64,000 last week. In 44 states and the District of Columbia, caseloads were higher than they were one month ago.

“This virus

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