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Waskom ISD has closed its elementary campus this week because of a large number of staff members out with COVID-19.

A Waskom ISD school and Wiley College have been forced to take precautions against COVID-19 outbreaks.

Waskom ISD Superintendent Rae Ann Patty said the district made the decision to close its elementary campus three days after classes began because of a large number of staff members out with COVID-19.

The campus will remain closed this week, and students will return Monday. No instruction is happening remotely this week, and Patty said the missed days will not need to be made up later as enough days were worked into the school calendar.

Wiley College, which began its school year at the beginning of August, has been on campus-wide quarantine and lockdown since Aug. 11 because of COVID-19 cases.

Wiley College officials did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

According to a Wiley College professor’s social media post warning community members to stay off campus, the quarantine came after an “outbreak” among students. Students have been instructed to stay in their dorms, he said, and work on classes online. They’ve also been asked not to leave the campus unless absolutely necessary. He said the quarantine was implemented in order to protect staff members and other students.

Patty said Waskom ISD is spending this week cleaning the elementary campus, and upon students’ return next week, social distancing measures will be implemented.

“This year, the major change is that the Texas Education Agency public health document and Gov. Greg Abbot’s executive orders do not allow schools to send people home for close contact,” Patty said. “I understand the intent was to give parents a choice to quarantine their students and make the best decision for their students. Last year, Waskom would have quarantined staff members and students for close contact.

“This may have slowed the spread when people were asymptomatic. We will encourage our staff to take the same precautions and use the mitigating measures as last year. We would encourage our parents and community to keep your students home when they are ill as well.”

Patty said she wanted to assure the Waskom community the district is doing everything within its power to address COVID-19 concerns.

“We want our community to know we are very cautious, given the new regulations and protocols,” she said. “Please get in touch with your child’s school if they are ill and remaining at home. Students must be counted absent and are subject to the attendance laws just as in years past. We can help with this if you call us and tell us your child is COVID-19 positive or considered a close contact.”

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