PISD shuts campus amid COVID worries

Staffing shortage cited as reason for going virtual; in-person classes resume Jan. 5

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
A staffing shortage in Palmer ISD is forcing the school district to return to virtual learning for the rest of this week. The rate of COVID-19 cases in the district remains low, with only 13 cases out of more than 1,300 students and staff.

Palmer Independent School District will finish 2020 fall classes in virtual learning because of concerns about COVID-19. However, the issue isn’t about a full-on outbreak, but rather a staffing shortage caused by mandatory quarantines.

The 1,233-student district announced on Thursday afternoon that it had ended face-to-face learning for the rest of the fall portion of the schedule and was going to online learning.  Only one week remains in the fall portion of the school year for PISD; the last day of class is scheduled for this Friday.

“Due to staffing concerns, students will not report back until Jan. 5,” Palmer ISD announced on Thursday on social media. “We encourage you to have your children check in daily through Dec. 18 as we will be teaching remotely. If you have internet problems, please call your child’s campus.”

The school district is providing drive-thru meals from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at Palmer Elementary through Friday. Breakfast for the following day will be packed with lunches, the school announced.

The district plans to return to face-to-face learning when classes resume on Jan. 5. Palmer ISD’s fall semester doesn’t end until Jan. 8, so students will be back in classrooms for the final four days of the grading period.

Palmer ISD and other districts across the state have faced a shortage of teachers and staff because of a Texas Education Association directive. Any district employee or substitute teacher who has faced close contact with a person suspected of having COVID-19 must quarantine for a period of 14 days.

As of Monday, PISD reported a total of 13 active cases of COVID-19 across all three of its campuses, including zero active cases at Palmer Middle School, for an infection rate of less than 1 percent. The number includes 1,233 students and 163 total campus staff, including teachers, administrators, cafeteria staff, custodians and paraprofessionals, and also includes 29 recovered cases.