Leander ISD will keep schools open after a letter from the Williamson County health district recommended districtwide campus closures following a surge in COVID-19 cases within LISD.

Williamson County and Cities Health District sent an email to LISD Aug. 23 that recommended closing all schools for 10 days. The email said the rate of new cases is nearly three times the spread in the surrounding county, according to the letter from WCCHD Medical Director Dr. Amanda Norwood. Additionally, there are multiple campuses with two or more active clusters on campus.

"WCCHD has grown increasingly concerned with the amount of cases and the amount of rapid spread throughout LISD as a district this past week," Norwood wrote to Superintendent Bruce Gearing.

In an Aug. 24 release, the district said it shares the concerns from WCCHD about spread but that a districtwide closure would not meet the needs of students and families.

LISD has reported 160 confirmed positive cases since Aug. 23. There have been 382 positive cases among students and staff since the first day of school Aug. 12, according to the COVID-19 dashboard.

"At this time, we are keeping schools open and focusing on individual classrooms impacted by clusters of positive cases," a district statement read. "It is possible that whole classrooms at the elementary level may be required to access remote conferencing with their teacher. We will communicate those details directly to impacted staff, teachers, and families."

The WCCHD letter also recommended universal masking with opt-outs only for people with medical exemptions, "robust" campus contact tracing, a seven-day required quarantine for identified close contacts and virtual options for students who cannot be vaccinated.

The letter was sent during a special LISD school board meeting where trustees voted 5-2 to approve a mask mandate through Sept. 9. The mask mandate will be revisited Sept. 9 at the regular board meeting. The mandate will expire at midnight if not extended by the board.

LISD is the only district that WCCHD has recommended closure for this school year, according to Health District spokesperson Deb Strahler.