The head of the Texas Education Agency said that schools are dealing with major operational issues.
Mike Morath told members of the state's department of education that community spread is so rampant that it’s pretty much a guarantee that someone with an active infection is walking into a school campus.
As previously reported, the number of active cases in Venus ISD, south of the metroplex, was so high that there isn't enough staff to continue school. All schools are closed this week and won't open until after Labor Day.
More and more students and staff are testing positive. Some schools don’t even have enough healthy staff to keep classes going. The TEA is calling it a "very disruptive situation."
There are no signs of students, teachers or staff at Venus ISD schools, this week. Classes are canceled because of COVID-19 outbreaks and close contacts.
Superintendent James Hopper says more than 10% of its 330 teachers and staff were going to be out this week to quarantine. More than 100 kids tested positive for COVID-19, last week. So, the district canceled everything.
"Last thing we ever want to do is cease instruction. Last thing we ever want to do is close schools," he said. "There is no post-COVID world at this point, and so what we have to do is simply deal with that, and so we are going to have absences."
COVID surges at school districts across Texas were at the center of discussion during Wednesday’s state board of education meeting.
"None of us wanted to be in this situation today," Morath said. "I think none of us thought we would be in this situation on or about July 1."
The TEA says it’s delivered 1.5 million rapid COVID-19 tests to districts across the state during the past three weeks.
"Yet again, wrestling with issues that go well beyond reading, writing and arithmetic," Morath said.
"The problem that all schools are having now is that no one has enough substitute teachers," Hopper said. "No one has enough bus drivers. No one has enough custodians."
The TEA is not enforcing Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on school mask mandates, citing the ongoing lawsuits over the order and local control.
While a number of districts require masks, Venus ISD does not. The superintendent says despite the outbreak, that will not change when schools reopen next week.
"Some people prefer to mask, and some people do not," Hopper said. "And so we want to maintain that flexibility as long as we can."
Venus ISD schools have been doing on-site testing. They’re now planning to go back to last year’s model of temperature checks while increasing the number of times classrooms are cleaned.