Coronavirus

The Academy and Salado independent school districts will be closed the remainder of the week — a decision administrators made after an increasing number of faculty and staff began testing positive for COVID-19.

Although Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny highlighted how his district’s COVID-19 figures, which include lab-confirmed and probable cases, are at an “all-time high,” campuses have not reached the Bell County Public Health District’s threshold for closures.

“We are closing as a result of staffing shortages,” he said in a letter to families on Tuesday. “We are at a point in which we are unable to continue operating safely until more of our employees return from quarantine/isolation.”

Salado ISD has registered 103 COVID-19 cases — 30 of which were for employees — in the last seven days, according to district information.

“We will continue to take preventative steps that we are allowed to implement, such as frequently cleaning our facilities, providing hand sanitizer for our students and employees, and physical distancing whenever possible,” Novotny said in his daily newsletter on Tuesday. “Hopefully the numbers in our school district, county and state will … start to decline very soon.”

In the meantime, the Salado ISD superintendent took a moment to thank his district’s teachers and staff for going above and beyond.

“Our teachers and other employees have done an incredible job this past week,” Novotny said. “Many … have been performing duties that are not part of their job description — covering classes for an absent teacher, helping with cafeteria duty and driving school bus routes.”

Salado ISD is scheduled to reopen for normal operations on Monday.

“I hope all of you stay safe and healthy,” Novotny said.

Academy ISD Superintendent Billy Harlan stressed how it was not a simple decision for his district to shutter its doors.

“However, we want to provide our community with a safe and secure environment in which to educate our students,” he said in a letter to families on Tuesday. “In the past several days, staff and student attendance has been extremely low. Without staff, the entire school function is disrupted from child nutrition, transportation, and daily cleaning to our instructional practices.”

Like Salado ISD, Academy ISD will not need to establish make-up hours for these three days.

However, additional school days could be added to the calendar if campuses close for weather or COVID-19 related reasons again.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding during these uncertain times, and thank you for your support of our great school community as we continue to try and take care of Academy,” Harlan said.