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Richardson ISD elementary school forced into virtual learning after 17% of students absent with COVID

The school reported 24 new cases of COVID among students and staff since Monday, and by Wednesday, 17% of the entire campus was absent.

RICHARDSON, Texas — The recent uptick in COVID cases has hit a Richardson ISD elementary school, where school leaders were forced to make the decision to move to virtual learning for the rest of the semester.

In a Dec. 14 letter to parents, Big Springs Elementary Principal Vince Dawes said that the number of positive cases of COVD-19 have been increasing at the school among staff and students. 

Dawes said the school reported 24 new cases of COVID among students and staff since Monday, and by Wednesday, 17% of the entire campus was absent.

New positive cases reported Tuesday night into Wednesday morning - with more students awaiting test results - tipped the balance, leading the Dallas County Health and Human Services to recommend suspending in-person learning to stop further spread of the virus.

"This means there will be no in person school or school activities beginning Wednesday, December 15," Dawes wrote.

Dawes said RISD Health Services had been in regular contact with the school about about its situation, prior to making the decision.

Students will be using iPads to learn on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 before winter break begins on Dec. 18. Students will return to in-person learning in the new year when the semester resumes on Jan. 4, 2022.

According to the latest COVID-19 modeling data from UT Southwestern, the total number of hospitalizations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are either flat or increasing, "breaking the trends of robust declines observed in September and October." The medical group also noted that test positivity rates are "slowly increasing" in several areas and among younger age groups.

Their modeling showed hospitalization levels from COVID, still largely driven by the Delta variant, could increase over the holidays if vaccination rates don't increase. However, with the Omicron variant now present in North Texas - including confirmed cases in patients who hadn't recently traveled - UT Southwestern said it's even more important to get fully vaccinated with a booster.