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Risk of COVID-19 spread forces closure of Waco High School

Waco High School will close for in-person learning until Nov. 16 at the earliest, the district said Monday.

WACO, Texas — Editor's Note: The video in this story is from before the latest closure announcement from Waco High School.

Waco High School became the latest Waco Independent School District school to close due to cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

Principal James Stewart sent a letter to parents and staff saying the school would close at 1 p.m. through the rest of the week. The plan was to reopen for in-person learning on Nov. 16, Stewart said.

“We started the school day with 21 teachers out following close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, waiting for test results, or for other reasons," Stewart said. "Since then, we learned that another person, who has been on our campus, tested positive and that 11 more teachers will have to quarantine as a result."

Stewart said the school would follow regular dismissal procedures with buses running at 1 p.m.

“All of our in-person students have a laptop that they take home with them each day," Stewart said. "If there are any in-person students without internet access at home that do not already have a mobile hotspot, they can check one out by contacting the campus. If you need technical assistance with a student’s laptop or a mobile hotspot, you can reach our student help desk between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 254-284-1072."

University High School Head Football Coach and Campus Athletic Coordinator Rodney Smith confirmed to 6 News the varsity football game against Mansfield Timberview was canceled.

The Waco HS varsity game against Mansfield Lake Ridge was not on the calendar Monday afternoon but the school had not officially confirmed the game was canceled.

COVID-19 Closures at WISD

University High School announced it would be closed to in-person until Nov. 16 learning on Sunday.

G.W. Carver Middle School Principla Dr. Isaac Carter announced on Nov. 5 it would move to all remote learning until Nov. 30. 

Indian Spring Middle School closed to in-person learning on Nov. 5 and was expected to return on Nov. 13.

Lake Air Montessori Magnet School was scheduled to return to in-person learning on Nov. 12.

Midway Independent School District sent a letter to students and parents informing them band practices were canceled for the week and that they would not travel to the Desoto game Friday.

"There has been a rise in Covid cases in McLennan County and within our school," said Director of Midway ISD bands Pam Hyatt. "There has not been an outbreak in band but we do not want to open ourselves up to that situation. In consultation with the Midway Fine Arts Director, (Mr. Umhoefer), our HS Principal (Mrs. Smith) and our Goal Tender coach (Mrs. Wadsworth) we feel that it would be best if the band and Goal Tenders do their part to slow the spread by canceling this week’s activities."

Hyatt also asked that students not take part in social events that could undermine the effort to slow the spread.

According to a statement from Waco ISD Monday, over the weekend the district learned of added adult cases of COVID-19. This means schools will close and a shift to remote learning. 

At this time, no student cases of COVID-19 have been reported on-site over the last week.  All new cases are adults, according to the district.

Out of an abundance of caution, RQ Sims Intermediate will be closed for the rest of this week until November 16. This step has been taken to decrease the transmission of all diseases including not only COVID-19, but also flu, strep, and the common cold.

Lunches may be picked up in the Sims drive-thru line from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day for the rest of the week. Pick Up of technology and learning materials will be available Wednesday, November 11 from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  

The school asks that drivers use the bus lane in front of RQ Sims and someone will be in front of the cafeteria to help while they stay in their car. Parents will need to know their student's homeroom teacher. Wireless hotspots are also available, one hotspot per family.

The RQ Sims building has been cleaned over the weekend and is being deeply cleaned again tonight. The choice to close the building to students never comes easily, but the choice is being made to ensure student health and safety.