As respiratory illnesses continue to spread across North Texas, another local school district opted to close its doors this week.
Frost ISD, located roughly 60 miles south of Dallas, announced that classes were canceled on February 7 and 8. With February 9 scheduled as a non-instructional day, classes will not resume until February 12.
Noting that many students had been calling in sick, Frost ISD posted on social media that the school buildings would be sanitized by custodial staff “in hopes of stopping the spread of illness.”
The district is one of several that recently canceled classes in response to viral outbreaks, as reported by The Dallas Express. Archer City, Chillicothe, Crowell, Graham, Olney, Garner, Benjamin, and Rio Vista ISD closed in late January after logging widespread illness among students and staff.
All these districts are on the smaller side, with Frost ISD having just three campuses and a student body of around 435 students. As such, the threshold for closures — typically 10% — was more easily reached.
The Texas Department of State Health Services’ respiratory illness dashboard reported a spike in influenza-related emergency visits in the week ending on February 3. While most of these visits involved minors, children between the ages of 5 and 11 held the largest share at 19.7%. By comparison, visits due to COVID-19 and RSV remained low.
Excessive school closures run the risk of hindering student learning, with COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 resulting in learning loss among school-aged children nationwide, especially in math and reading.
For instance, in 2021-2022, Dallas ISD students performed poorly on statewide assessments, according to the Texas Education Agency’s accountability report. Only 41% of students scored at grade level on the STAAR exam that term, and almost 20% of the district’s Class of 2022 did not graduate within four years.