WACO, Texas (KWTX) – The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire. In fact in McLennan County COVID cases have more than tripled in just one week and in Bell County the incidence rate has doubled in the past week.
News Ten surveyed major Central Texas school districts about how they plan to respond to the new variant when classes start in just a few weeks.
In anticipation of COVID cases continuing to rise Baylor University has announced it’s considering the possibility of virtual classes for the beginning of the semester. But for K-12 school districts that decision is not so easy.
Belton ISD told News Ten because of restrictions on funding for remote learning, starting off the semester fully virtual is not even an option.
Killeen ISD also says it has no plans to change or tighten it’s covid-19 protocol.
“We’ve continued to do our safety protocols from the very beginning and we’ve been able to keep our doors open and so at this point the board did not see a need to have any type of change in those protocols,” said Killeen ISD spokesperson Taina Maya. “We feel it is really a parent’s personal responsibility…A conversation with their student.”
Temple ISD leaders say says they’re waiting to meet with the Bbell County Health District for advice on the upcoming semester. The health district says it will meet with all Bell County school superintendents in the next few weeks. Health district leaders say they don’t plan to recommend a virtual start to school but they will advice that some extracurricular activities be cut back.
“Try to limit large group indoor activities for students,” said Dr. Janice Smith, the health authority for Bell County. “That may impact some indoor sporting events and trying to limit the capacities would be some of the recommendations that we’ll be making.”
Another recommendation from the health districts is the using of masks in schools.
Gov. Abbott has banned schools from mandating masks but Waco ISD says now more than ever in the face of the fast-spreading omicron variant it will continue requiring masks anyway as complete virtual schooling is simply not an option.
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