North Texas Districts Extend Long Weekend Amid COVID, Staff Shortages

Several North Texas school districts cancelled school on both ends of the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, citing staff shortages and a surge in COVID-19 cases. School leaders are hoping the time off will allow students and teachers who have recently tested positive to safely quarantine and recover, according to local news reports.

Mansfield Independent School District and Northwest Independent School District, both in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, have announced that all their campuses will be closed through Tuesday, Jan. 18. The nearby Mesquite and White Settlement districts will be closed through Wednesday, Jan. 19.

According to The Dallas Morning News, more than 15% of the Mesquite ISD staff has been absent. “The strain of covering classes in the midst of a severe substitute shortage has taken a tremendous toll on our staff members who are able to report to work, but our ability to safely monitor students in our care is quickly becoming unmanageable,” said district officials on the Mesquite ISD website.

Likewise, White Settlement ISD Superintendent Frank Molinar recently wrote a letter to families explaining that more than 150 district staff members out of a total of 825 have been out due to COVID-19 exposure, illness or because their own children’s day cares have closed. “All available personnel are being utilized to cover classes and staff who are out; however, the rising staff absentee rates are making this increasingly difficult to provide adequate staffing,” wrote Molinar.

Several other nearby districts—including Argyle ISD, Boyd ISD, Red Oak ISD, Kemp ISD and Pilot Point ISD, among others—also cancelled classes last Friday, Jan. 14.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at [email protected]