FORT WORTH, Texas — For some parents, sending kids back to school after a break comes as a relief.
That wasn’t the case on Wednesday for Fort Worth parent Claudia Guerrero. After dropping her daughter off at Fort Worth ISD’s Jean McClung Middle School, Guerrero sat in her car, filled with sadness.
“This is very hard, starting back over again,” Guerrero said.
The holiday break is over. Across North Texas, students are returning to school as cases of the Omicron variant reach new heights.
“Very sad,” Guerrero said. “I don’t want her to be here.”
As of Tuesday, 50 of the district’s 5,000 teachers were quarantined due to COVID, according to Fort Worth ISD Assistant Superintendent Michael Steinert.
Since Monday, the district has had 300 COVID reports amongst all staff members. The 300 COVID reports include close-contact reports and COVID positive cases. Not all of those staff members are quarantined, Steinert said.
“As much as we wanted this to be over, we’re prepared to continue responding to it just like we have,” Steinert said.
Steinert told WFAA that the district will continue its COVID safety measures of contact tracing, deep cleaning school buildings and buses daily, and encouraging students and staff to wear masks. Currently, masks are not mandatory at Fort Worth ISD.
District leaders have said in-person learning is the best option for students.
Steinert said that school nurses are keeping an eye out for symptoms in students, but he’s urging parents to self-check their children for symptoms at home. COVID or not, the district is urging parents to keep children home if they have symptoms such as fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or smell.
Fort Worth ISD is testing out a Telehealth pilot program at 40 of its campuses. Parents can opt-in to the program, which allows nurses to coordinate Telehealth visits at school between medical doctors and students.
“What that looks like, is those students can actually consent to a rapid flu, strep, or COVID test on-site,” Steinert said.
The school district hopes to expand the program to all of its schools by next year. Additionally, the school district has partnered with the City of Fort Worth to inform parents of COVID testing sites available throughout Fort Worth.
Steinert reassured parents that the school district has a plan to keep students safe.
“This is not new for us, and as much as we wanted this to be over, we’re prepared to continue responding to it just like we started to over a year and a half ago,” Steinert said. “We have yet to close down an entire school. We’ve done a good job of contact tracing and mitigating extra exposures, and we’re gonna continue to do that.”
Guerrero just wants to keep her family safe. COVID already took away one of her loved ones last December.
“Whenever your dad passes away and you’re not able to be there and say your last goodbyes cause you have COVID, that’s hard,” Guerrero said.
Another Fort Worth Parent, Sekai Musenda, said she felt nervous sending her children back to school.
“I was feeling more safe when they were home, because I knew where I was taking them,” Musenda said.