SAN ANTONIO — A small South Texas school district located southeast of San Antonio is shutting down until next Tuesday, citing a "recent surge of positive COVID-19 cases within our district."
A letter from Runge ISD Superintendent Hector O. Dominguez Jr. notified families of the closures. Extracurricular activities and team practices are also on hold until 7:50 a.m. on August 29.
"The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and community is a top priority," Dominguez said in the brief letter, dated Monday, which is also when all the district's buildings were sanitized.
Runge ISD is a small district that services 195 students, and operates on a schedule of four-day weeks starting Tuesday and ending Friday. The district's coronavirus tracker, last updated Monday, is reporting a 4.2% positivity rate this week, with 10 out of 43 staff members diagnosed with the virus.
"On Saturday afternoon I began to receive calls," Dominguez told KENS 5.
He says this year's situation at Runge ISD isn't entirely different from 2022, which also started with a surge of COVID.
But it was students who got sick last year. This year, it's district staff who have been widely affected.
That includes Dominguez himself.
"I tested myself with my physician, and I too tested positive for COVID," he said. "We're a very small school district, so we don't have the resources that another large district would have to cover classes."
It's unclear if the district is the first in the state to announce a widespread closure due to COVID-19 this year, but cases have been steadily rising through the first three weeks of August across the state and nationally. A report from Texas officials states at least 4,514 new cases were reported during the week of August 13, up about 30% from the week before.
COVID-related hospitalizations, however, remain low.
"It was a no-brainer that it was in the best interest of keeping everyone safe," Dominguez says.
In the near-future, the superintendent added, a committee will meet to draft a new instructional calendar to make up for this week's lost classroom time.
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