North Texas charter school closes to stop COVID outbreak after 1 in 10 students test positive

A North Texas charter school is temporarily closing its doors due to an outbreak of COVID-19, after nearly 1 in 10 students reported a confirmed laboratory case of the coronavirus.

Trivium Academy, a 600-student K-11 charter public school in Carrollton (the school hopes to have its first class in 2023), announced its pending closure on Wednesday.

Administrators and chief epidemiologist at Denton County Department of Public Health Juan Rodriguez found the disease was “so widespread that contact tracking becomes nearly impossible,” Trivium superintendent Sheryl Bradley wrote in a letter to parents.

On Monday, the charter school reported to the state 36 laboratory-confirmed cases, as required by the Texas Education Agency and the Texas State Department of Health Services. At noon on Wednesday, 20 more cases had been identified.

And the total number of school cases is unlikely to be reported, Bradley said.

“Anecdotally, we know there are many more cases among our school population,” he wrote. “We know that some pediatricians tell parents that if a child tests positive, they can assume that siblings are also positive if they become symptomatic. Because these siblings are not confirmed by the test, they do not take into account the total number of cases reported.

“We also know that there are some who are symptomatic who choose not to try or not to report positive cases. Again, these do not take into account the total number of cases reported.”

Trivium Academy will close on Friday and will remain closed until September 6th. No virtual instructions will be offered during the break.

Although the school strongly advised parents to keep their children at home on Thursday, it did not close the campus that day, accommodating families who needed to “make arrangements for their care,” the letter said.

Prior to the outbreak, the school did not have a mask warrant.

Unlike Dallas County, where Judge Clay Jenkins has been embroiled in a legal battle with Gov. Greg Abbott over his state ban on mask orders, Denton County has pledged to maintain compliance. Abbott’s executive order, as did Trivium’s board of directors.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is addressing the media after a state district judge resolved mask warrants on August 25, 2021 in Dallas.  (Zoom screenshot)

Bradley explained the reason for this decision in his letter.

“Because of the litigation related to the mask warrants, the Board voted to adopt a lawyer’s recommendation and continue to follow Governor Abbott’s executive order,” he wrote. “At the moment, although we could issue the requirement to wear masks, we could not apply it legally.

“Although we do not issue a mask warrant at this time, yes plea with you to help protect our Trivium community by having your child wear a mask to school. “

Some smaller school districts in North Texas have closed their doors in the past two weeks in similar attempts to stop the spread of the delta variant, including Boyise ISD in Wise County and Kemp ISD in Kaufman County.

Boyd ISD will close its primary school tomorrow and Friday so custodial staff can disinfect the building.

As of Aug. 15, the state reported 8,102 COVID-19 cases among students and Texas public school staff. New numbers are expected until Friday, August 22nd.

The DMN Education Lab delves into coverage and conversation on urgent educational issues that are crucial to the future of North Texas.

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