FORT WORTH, Texas — The return to school from the holiday break ended quickly at one of the largest school districts in North Texas.
On Thursday, Northwest ISD became the latest district to join the growing list announcing school closures due to the latest COVID surge. Beginning Friday, all 31 of the district’s campuses will close until Tuesday.
The district will resume normal operations on Wednesday.
The closure means roughly 28,000 students enrolled in one of the fastest-growing school districts will go back home. Students will not have remote learning days during the closure, and they won’t have to make up the days, according to the district.
The school district is treating the closure as it would during inclement weather cancellations.
Christian Garcia, a parent with children enrolled in the district, said he wasn’t surprised by the school district’s decision to temporarily close.
“It was a matter of time before we were gonna head back to that,” Garcia said. “It is what it is.”
For parents like Ramsi Rubalcava, the announcement was like déjà vu.
“It’s a constant struggle,” Rubalcava said. “To say that it’s a rollercoaster ride is an understatement.”
Rubalcava told WFAA she stands by Northwest ISD superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren’s decision to close the schools.
“It’s definitely tough for some working parents since they have to rearrange their schedules and arrange child care,” said Rubalcava. “It’s just something that needs to happen to let the teachers and students heal so that enough staff members can come back.”
In a letter to parents, Warren said the significant amount of teachers and staff out sick with COVID led to a major shortage in substitutes and that there aren’t enough to keep schools open.
“I am sorry we are having to do this, but we have to break the cycle of positive tests,” Warren said in a letter.
On Wednesday, NISD reported 1,155 positive COVID cases in the district, an 878 percent increase since the holiday break.
On Thursday morning, 479 campus staff (teachers, administrators and other positions) were either out sick due to COVID infections or out caring for a loved one with COVID at home. The school district said that it’s guest educator "fill rate" is less than 50 percent.
"The district probably could’ve maybe given families more time to prepare for this," Garcia said. "It’s frustrating, but we’ve kind of learned to adapt to it. This is just another obstacle that we’ll all get through eventually."
In the district’s Facebook post announcing the closure, parents shared their feelings about the decision. A majority of parents in the comments said they support the district’s decision to close.
For her part, Rubalcava said she’s dealing with feelings of guilt surrounding what’s best for her son.
"It’s a battle I fight almost daily as a parent in this pandemic," Rubalcava said . "One thing that’s important to remember is that we’re all in this together."