Another Texas school district votes to require masks after 781 students in quarantine due to COVID-19

Lockhart Independent School District experiencing mass spread of coronavirus

Students eat lunch in the cafeteria at Chapa Middle School in Kyle on Aug. 24, 2021.

LOCKHART, Texas – Lockhart Independent School District, located just outside of San Marcos, is now requiring face masks for all students, staff, parents and visitors after a COVID-19 outbreak in the district.

According to officials within the district, 781 students are currently quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure and as of Saturday there were 204 active cases, of which 181 are students.

The LISD Board of Trustees voted 5-2 on Saturday to require masks and face coverings for anyone in LISD buildings or on district buses.

COVID-19 has ravaged the Texas education system since the start of the 2021-2022 academic year with at least 45 small school districts being forced to close or stop offering in-person instruction due to positive cases, according to the Texas Education Agency.

The Texas Tribune reported that the shutdowns affected roughly 42,000 students as of last Thursday. In Texas public schools from Aug. 23-29 there were 27,353 new positive COVID-19 cases among students, based on data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

That’s the biggest single-week increase in COVID-19 cases for students since the start of the pandemic, according to the Texas Tribune.

Superintendent of Schools for LISD, Mark Estrada, said the district has already closed four classes and a student program due to 20% or more students being diagnosed with COVID-19.

“We expect there will be a need to close more classes in the coming weeks, and if any campus should reach 10% or more of students campus-wide who are diagnosed with COVID-19, the district may need to begin closing campuses as well, transitioning students to online learning during the temporary campus closure,” Estrada said.

The district is also under pressure for staffing. Estrada cited a need for 79 substitutes on Friday but due to availability issues only 28 positions were able to be filled. He also said only 32 of the district’s 43 bus drivers were able to cover the bus routes.

“We had to combine routes to accommodate the shortage of drivers, resulting in later arrival times for students to come home,” said Estrada.

Last week an elementary school in Marble Falls closed due to the number of active COVID-19 cases among students. Marble Falls ISD Superintendent Dr. Chris Allen said Highland Lakes Elementary School classes aren’t expected to resume until Sept. 13.

Locally, school districts are gearing up to make changes if Gov. Greg Abbott approves a bill that could expand and fund virtual learning for the current academic year. Harlandale Independent School District is ready to move forward with virtual learning if Senate Bill 15 receives final approval from Abbott.

According to data from DSHS, there have been a total of 51,904 cumulative positive student cases of COVID-19 in Texas public schools since the start of the school year.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.