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Fort Worth ISD gears up to welcome students back amid Omicron surge

Around 74,000 Fort Worth ISD students will return to school from the holiday break on Wednesday.

FORT WORTH, Texas — As the Omicron variant drives a new COVID surge, around 74,000 students enrolled at Fort Worth Independent School District will return to school on Wednesday.

That’s the case in several school districts across North Texas.

Hazel Harris, a Fort Worth resident, rushed to the COVID testing site at the Scarborough-Handley Field in Fort Worth.

She made sure her girls were tested before returning to school from the holiday break.

“The testing is a peace of mind,” Harris said. “I won’t have to worry about whether the girls have COVID.”

Fort Worth ISD staff spent Tuesday deep-cleaning school buildings, unpacking PPE deliveries and putting up signs to remind students and staff that masks are still strongly encouraged at schools.

Claudia Garibay, FWISD Executive Communications Director, said the district is following the same COVID cleaning protocol in place from the beginning of the pandemic.

“It’s happening today, but we’re always doing this,” Garibay said.

Garibay said the school district is prepared to quickly adjust as needed. While the district will not provide COVID tests in schools, it has partnered with the city of Fort Worth to expand testing availability and inform parents about testing sites.

Joseph Coburn, FWISD Chief of District Operations, told WFAA that currently, the school district doesn’t have plans to provide a virtual learning option.

“Having students do in-person learning is the best way to help them succeed in the classroom, and we wanna do anything we can to help them,” said Coburn. “I think we’re all expecting the unexpected, we’re ready.”

The return to school comes as Tarrant County’s positivity rate climbed to 35%. During the Commissioner’s Court hearing Tuesday, county leaders said the current positivity rate is a pandemic high. Currently, one in three tests in Tarrant County is positive, according to county leaders.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitely stressed the importance of getting vaccinated and boosted.  

“I expect that we’re gonna expect to continue to see increases over the next couple of weeks, and I hope we do everything we can to level this thing out and try to beat it back,” Whitely said.

Lyric Lawrence, a Fort Worth resident lined up at the Como Community testing site two hours before the site opened. Lawrence was trying to get her little brother tested before he returns to school Wednesday.

“The whole house got a scare, and we’re now all out here trying to get tested today,” Lawrence said. “It’s like it’s never-ending.”

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