FORT WORTH, Texas — Just as parents were hoping this school year would be different, the COVID-19 surge is affecting schools once again.
At Fort Worth ISD, the number of students and staff getting quarantined is increasing week by week.
Michael Steinert, Fort Worth ISD’s assistant superintendent, is leading district-wide contact tracing efforts.
“Ten days into school, it’s escalating to a point that none of us would have expected, honestly,” Steinert said.
The school district made COVID-19 information impacting parents and staff available online. Steinert said it’s an effort to be transparent in the hopes of keeping the community safe.
Steinert said that up until Aug. 27, Fort Worth ISD has quarantined 3,800 students from the start of the 2021-2022 school year. He said it’s a higher rate than what the district experienced at any point during the peak of the previous school year.
According to Steinert, during the 2020-2021 school year, the school district quarantined a total of 13,000 students over the course of the entire year. Keep in mind, fewer students attended school in person during the last school year.
According to data reported on FWISD Friday evening, there were 2,209 close contact students quarantined between Aug. 23-Aug. 29. It’s a sharp increase from the week of Aug. 16-Aug. 22, when only 696 close contact students were quarantined.
“It’s significantly higher, so it is an alarm that we need to think carefully about,” said Steinert.
Bianca Cerda, a mom of two in Fort Worth, said her children were sent home to quarantine this week after close contact with a COVID-19 positive person.
“It’s more like a panic,” Cerda said.
She’s vaccinated, but her son and daughter aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine. She said she’s worried for their safety.
Friday, she was scrambling to figure out a work from home option for the next 10 days, the length of time her children were told to quarantine. While she wants to keep her kids safe, she says in-person learning is the best option.
“It’s scary cause I’m like, do we face another opportunity of getting shut down?” Cerda said.
Steinert urges parents not to send their kids to school sick in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. He encourages families to vaccinate those who are eligible.
Cerda said she understands the struggle that teachers, staff and school leaders are up against, but she’s tired of the ups and downs since last year. She makes her children wear masks to school and asks them to stay socially distant whenever possible. She wishes others did the same.
“It’s frustrating when you start getting the emails that someone tested positive,” said Cerda. "We’re doing the best we can and we need to come all together and push to help everybody.”
Like so many parents, she just wants things to get better for good.