Hays CISD closes elementary school after COVID-19 outbreak

Coronavirus

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays County Consolidated Independent School District will temporarily close one of its campuses due to COVID-19 spread.

According to Hays CISD, 10% of the campus population at Tobias Elementary is infected. That triggered the closure until Monday, Sept. 20.

Previously, Hays CISD superintendent Dr. Eric Wright said while he believes masks should be worn in schools, the district was choosing not to enforce its own mandates, as several Texas districts have done.

“We just don’t think we have the authority to enforce if we were to create a mask mandate,” Wright said. “If students showed up in our district, and they weren’t wearing a mask… we don’t think that anyone would come in and actually support that [enforcement]. If we say that there’s a mask mandate, I need to make sure that 100% of people are going to wear masks.”

Some of Texas’ biggest school districts have imposed their own mask mandates, despite a ban on mask mandates in public schools by Gov. Greg Abbott. Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas ISDs all enforced their own mandates.

More than 65 students and staff members at Tobias have COVID-19 right now, according to Hays CISD. That’s more than what any other district campus is experiencing.

“I hate this, this is like the worst nightmare I could ever have,” Wendy Morgan, a retired Tobias gym teacher said.

Morgan reached out to KXAN when she noticed Tobias had eight of the 10 classrooms in the district that are under quarantine.

“My P.E. teacher has COVID, the one who took my place,” Morgan said. “Just real concerned about how the year started, and I’m afraid it’s not going to get any better.”

Hays CISD said the threshold of 10% of the campus having COVID is a recommendation set by the county’s health authority.

“There’s no perfect answer for everybody,” Jeri Skrocki with Hays CISD said. “Everybody has an opinion on what we should and shouldn’t do, and we rely heavily on our medical team and authority to guide us on those decisions.”

Skrocki said protocols are the same across all their schools with masks being strongly recommended but not required. It’s not clear why Tobias had such a major outbreak.

“We’re doing our best, but right now we’re very busy doing a response to what we have in front of us, versus, currently going out there and researching why it’s occurring,” Skrocki said.

Morgan just wants to see those she cares about be safe.

“You know when you retire from such a wonderful school and family, all you want is the best for them,” Morgan said.

Students will be doing remote learning for the rest of the week.

Dahlstrom Middle School isn’t far behind Tobias with high active COVID-19 cases. Just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dahlstrom had 47 active student cases and six staff cases.

View the Hays CISD Classroom Quarantine list.

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