Because of rising COVID-19 cases, Seguin ISD shuttered its doors on Friday to give students and staff a four-day weekend in hopes of additional recovery.
The move came as the local hospital and parts of Guadalupe County witnessed increased infections of the coronavirus disease. The school district had a large portion of staff members out isolated and more educators testing positive Thursday, leading to campus closures Friday, Superintendent Matthew Gutierrez said in a video released to the public about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
“The increase in COVID cases is prohibiting us from effectively operating our schools,” he said. “Employee absences have escalated and many more staff members have tested positive today resulting in teachers and aides and other vital campus staff having to cover multiple classes. Office and support staff on our campuses have been negatively impacted.”
The available staff running the campuses was getting thin, prompting Gutierrez to take action and close the district on Friday, Jan. 14. The district already was scheduled to have Monday off in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“By doing so, we are hopeful that this will allow much of our staff to recover and return to work on Tuesday Jan. 18,” he said. “This will also allow our custodians to disinfect and deep clean our campuses while schools are closed.”
While classrooms remained empty, the district continued extracurricular activities as scheduled, Gutierrez said. The district also hosted a vaccination clinic Friday at Seguin High School as originally planned.
“I encourage our school community to take this extra time to rest and recover and I look forward to better outcomes when we return on Jan. 18,” the superintendent said.
As of Friday, Comal ISD was the only other public school district with at least one school in Guadalupe County that had announced any similar plans. Superintendent Andrew Kim on Wednesday extended students’ holiday break by an extra day giving them off Tuesday, Jan. 18 as well.
“The purpose of this day off for students is to give our teachers and staff an extra day to reset and re-calibrate as we have done in the past,” Kim wrote in a letter to parents. “In addition, extending the already planned three-day weekend will provide an opportunity for our COVID cases to slow down and allow us to conduct thorough campus cleaning and disinfection.”
Area schools weren’t the only ones feeling the brunt of the surge in infections. Guadalupe Regional Medical Center saw an increase in COVID-19 patients its treating from nine to 13 week over week, Public Information Officer Elizabeth McCown said Thursday.
The hospital’s seven-day moving averages for COVID hospitalizations and COVID admissions were 13 per day and three per day, respectively, she said.
“The positivity rate of COVID-19 tests run through Guadalupe Regional Medical Center’s laboratory remains high indicating presumed continued community spread of the omicron variant,” McCown said.
The surge has led to asymptomatic community members heading to the emergency room for COVID-19 testing, which the hospital is advising against, she said.
People without symptoms or requiring emergency care should find and visit testing sites near them, McCown said. Click on “COVID-19 testing near me” at dshs.state.tx.us/coronavirus/testing.aspx to find a testing location, she said.
Guadalupe Regional Medical Center continues to host the state-operated regional infusion center to deliver monoclonal antibody infusion to patients with active COVID-19 disease, McCown said. About two weeks ago, the center was treating about 25 people per day, she said.
“Over the last week, the center has averaged 22-28 infusions per day,” McCown said. “The COVID-19 omicron variant antibody treatment supply is severely limited in the U.S. and locally, which requires that those at highest risk for hospitalization and/or progression to severe disease from COVID-19 be prioritized for infusion. Infusions are for treatment of active COVID-19 disease and should not be confused with the protective effect of vaccination.”