LIBERTY HILL, Texas (KXAN) – The Liberty Hill Independent School District is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases.
On Monday, 36 new cases were reported to the district scorecard, bringing the total of seven days between students and staff to nearly 150.
According to data from 20 local school districts, the COVID-19 positivity rate at Liberty Hill ISD since the first day of school is the second highest in the area, just behind Lago Vista ISD.
Austin ISD, the largest school district in the area, has a positivity rate of 0.33%, the third best, just behind Manor ISD and San Marcos CISD.
There are a number of reasons that could lead to high COVID-19 transmission in the Liberty Hill area. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus spreads more easily indoors when people are unmasked and not vaccinated.
While masks are not required in the school district, they are only recommended. The district claims that less than 10% of students wear them every day. However, with nearly 200 cases currently active among students and staff, the district maintains that it will not change its rules on masks.
The district also does not track contacts, but only notifies campuses and people who may be in close contact in the classroom or extracurriculars. Quarantining close contacts is optional for these people. They are encouraged to wear masks.
An LHISD spokesman said the district is closely following Texas Education Agency guidelines, which “comply with CDC recommendations.”
Some parents believe the district, despite its growth, still maintains its small town mentality, which they believe could be responsible for the increase in cases. The district says it added more than 1,800 new students this year, though most districts in the area have experienced a drop in enrollment.
“It’s growing extremely fast, we have people nearby, there are subdivisions going up everywhere, and even when I walk into a gas station in Liberty Hill, I look funny, because I’m the only one wearing a mask.” said Shannon Spradling, who has two children at Liberty Hill High School. “I just ask [the district] take reasonable precautions to protect my children and all children who are in their schools. “
Other parents told KXAN not to blame the district for having trouble containing the virus. They expect families to be more vigilant about monitoring symptoms, which LHISD recommends parents do before going to school every day.