Lewisville ISD announces district will close for 3 days over staffing shortages, surge in COVID-19 cases

Lewisville ISD announced that the district will close for three days beginning Jan. 26 due to staffing shortages related to the latest COVID-19 surge. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)
Lewisville ISD announced that the district will close for three days beginning Jan. 26 due to staffing shortages related to the latest COVID-19 surge. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

Lewisville ISD announced that the district will close for three days beginning Jan. 26 due to staffing shortages related to the latest COVID-19 surge. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

Lewisville ISD announced that the district will close for three days beginning Jan. 26 due to staffing shortages related to the latest COVID-19 surge.

The district reported coronavirus cases involving middle school and high school students increased nearly 500% over the past 10 days. Staff absences districtwide, which have been running between 700 and 800 per day, peaked at 1,048 on Jan. 21, according to LISD.

“We do not have enough staff members to cover the expected staff absences, despite our best efforts to find substitutes and coverage for classes,” interim Superintendent Gary Patterson wrote in a Jan. 24 statement to families. “The numbers simply are not in our favor.”

Classes are scheduled to resume Jan. 31.

“It is our hope this districtwide closure will stem this alarming trend and provide relief to both students and staff,” Patterson wrote.


The Jan. 24 letter noted that not all staff absences prompting the districtwide closure are due to COVID-19 cases.

“We are seeing extraordinarily high numbers with other illnesses, personal reasons, sick family members, family medical leave, and the list goes on,” Patterson wrote. “Regardless of the cause, these staff absences impact our ability to maintain our daily campus operations.”

The district has more than 50,000 students and about 6,500 staffers.

Patterson said remote learning or online classes are not an option because the district does not have the staffing available to conduct those classes.

He also noted district officials have heard from many concerned families, some of whom believe the district should have closed earlier, and while others believe the district should not close at all.

“We know this is not a perfect solution, and certainly a measure we wish we didn’t have to take,” Patterson wrote. “I want to be clear–we have used every resource available over the last two weeks to keep the district open.”

The letter states high school activities, such as fine arts and athletics, will continue this week. At the middle school level, athletics will be rescheduled, and some fine arts sessions may be held virtually, according to the letter. More information is expected to be disseminated from campus administrators.

The districtwide closure comes after five LISD campuses canceled classes from Jan. 20-24 due to the high number of COVID-19 cases among teachers and staff. Those schools were Bridlewood Elementary School in Lewisville, Lillie J. Jackson Early Childhood Center in Lewisville, Indian Creek Elementary School in Carrollton, Morningside Elementary School in The Colony and Creek Valley Middle School in Carrollton.

Staffing shortages have been a struggle this school year. In December, the LISD board of trustees contracted with a private company to help supply the district with substitute teachers.

Between August and December, before the latest COVID-19 surge, the district reported it had filled 57% of requested substitute positions.

The shortage of available substitutes is an issue for districts across the nation, not just Lewisville ISD.

Patterson’s letter thanks not only teachers, but also campus support staff, campus administrators, the district’s central office staff and extended day staffers for covering classes in addition to their regular jobs.

“We are doing everything we can to keep schools open, and we have simply reached the limit of tools at our disposal,” Patterson wrote.
By Valerie Wigglesworth
Valerie has been a journalist for more than 30 years. She is currently managing editor for DFW Metro for Community Impact Newspaper.