Waxahachie ISD and all other public schools in Texas will remain closed until Monday, May 4 after Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation on Tuesday afternoon. Distance learning will continue and grab-and-go meals for children through age 18 remain available. [Courtesy photo]

Waxahachie Independent School District, and all other public schools in Ellis County and the state of Texas, will remain closed until Monday, May 4.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered all public schools closed until then to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, meaning that at-home learning will continue at least until then.


“Social distancing is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19, and the actions we have taken thus far have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of this virus,” Abbott said in Tuesday’s press conference. “Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible and flatten the curve."


Texas Medical Association president Dr. David Fleeger praised Abbott’s decision.


“TMA physicians applaud Gov. Abbott for following the science and preventing Texans statewide from gathering — and potentially spreading this coronavirus. The fewer people exposed to COVID-19, the stronger our ability to overtake this disease without overwhelming our hospitals, physicians, nurses, and health care system,” Fleeger said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.


Before Abbott’s proclamation, superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain had announced that WISD had set Friday, April 17 as the date that students would return to classrooms. The reopening date had been tied to the shelter-in-place order issued by the city of Waxahachie. Of course, the governor’s order rendered the district’s plans moot.


“We will continue to support our students and families through distance learning, and we will continue to provide meals to children ages 1-18 at multiple sites within Waxahachie,” Cain said in a message to families on the district’s website. “We will continue to provide families with regular updates by email. We appreciate your flexibility and hope your families are staying safe and healthy during this time.”


Elsewhere in Ellis County, distance learning continues in Midlothian ISD. In a letter to families on the MISD website, superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter touted teachers’ quality of care and their desire to continue inspiring excellence.


“After watching social media pictures and videos, as well as reading comments and listening to voicemails, MISD teachers have done a tremendous job in making the most incredible educational transition of our time by moving all learning to at-home, distance learning,” Ledbetter wrote. “With our goal of reconnecting with our students these past two weeks, our teachers have shared with me how excited they are to work with their students and take learning to a whole new level.”


MISD will continue to provide meals for all children as part of the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program, and Ledbetter announced that the program has been expanded to include new locations.


“While this has been a tremendous transition for our whole district, your ongoing support and encouragement have been essential in lifting our spirits as we work around the clock improving systems to support learning at home,” Ledbetter concluded. “Your MISD Strong attitude is what makes our district and community a family. It’s our family that inspires, encourages and allows us to achieve new heights. On behalf of our Board of Trustees, teachers and staff, thank you for your patience and confidence during this historic time.”