Virus outbreaks temporarily close 4 Texas school districts
HOUSTON (AP) — As the new school year begins for Texas students and mask mandates are debated in various state courts, at least four school districts have already closed campuses due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
The shutdowns are taking place as more school districts and communities continued this week to defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates and require students and residents to wear face coverings. Tuesday afternoon, Abbott’s office announced he had tested positive for COVID-19. Abbott, who is vaccinated, was experiencing no symptoms.
The school district in Gorman, located about 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) east of Abilene, had been set to begin the new school year on Wednesday but is now delaying that by a week “due to positive COVID cases within the school community of both faculty and students,” Superintendent Mike Winter said in a statement.
“This decision was not made lightly or quickly, and it was made with the best interest of all students, staff, and parents’ safety in mind,” Winter said.
In East Texas, the Bloomburg school district announced it was shut down this week “due to the number of staff members out with COVID.” Classes had started on Aug. 9.
About 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) south of Bloomburg, the Waskom school district’s elementary campus was closed due to the “number of staff members out with COVID,” said Superintendent Rae Ann Patty. Classes in Waskom had started Aug. 11.
These school districts join the Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District in West Texas, which on Monday announced it would close schools for two weeks so students and staff could quarantine due to COVID-19. Classes had started on Aug. 10.
Mask wearing was optional in these four school districts. At least 21 other Texas school districts, including some of the state’s...