By Caroline Vandergriff

LEWISVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Concern about the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms is growing for some North Texas parents.

Reported positive cases of the virus increased more than tenfold in Lewisville ISD from the first week of school to the second.

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“It’s spreading so fast, so incredibly fast,” said Lana Vela, whose 5-year-old son Cruz is in kindergarten at a Lewisville ISD elementary school.

Their family is now at home quarantining.

Vela says about a week into the new school year, Cruz got sick and tested positive for COVID.

“He had reported to me the day before he started showing symptoms that he wasn’t wearing his mask because nobody else was wearing their mask,” she said.

Her husband has since contracted the virus.

“It’s scary because I’m also diabetic, type two diabetic, so it’s very scary even though I am vaccinated,” James Vela said. “I just don’t think the school district has the family’s best interest in mind.”

The 2021-2022 school year started on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

That week, the district reported 24 positive COVID-19 cases on school campuses. The next week, that number rose to 276.

Lewisville ISD says it’s not a fair comparison since the first week of school only reflects a three-day period.

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The district says it’s doing all it can to provide a safe learning environment for students, from electro-static cleaning of desks to stand alone air purification units in classrooms. Desk shields are also available on request.

LISD is strongly encouraging masks but not requiring them.

Some parents say the current precautions in place just aren’t enough.

“The numbers on the COVID tracker speak for themselves,” said Katie Saldivar, who has two children that attend school in Lewisville ISD.

She chose to keep them home from school after her father-in-law, who lives with the family, tested positive for COVID-19.

Saldivar later tested positive as well, but her kids and husband tested negative.

With the negative test results, Saldivar says the district told her the children could come back to school, but her doctors said otherwise, citing CDC guidelines.

Without a virtual option, she feels like they’re being punished for doing the right thing.

“The district really does need to take a different stance and offer more resources for families that are choosing to quarantine for the safety of all the other kids and staff at the schools,” said her husband, Miguel Saldivar.

LISD says taking away resources from in-person learning to create a very limited online program doesn’t seem feasible at the time.

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This is the district’s full statement in response to concerns from parents:

“From the electro-static cleaning of desks to stand alone air purification units in elementary classrooms, sixth-grade classrooms and middle school lunch rooms, LISD is doing all it can to provide a safe learning environment for all its students in the midst of a global pandemic. It is certainly a challenging situation for our students, staff and families, and we understand the frustration some of our families are expressing. LISD continues to closely monitor a variety of factors across the district and at individual campuses, and is updating procedures and practices to be responsive to needs all the way down to a specific classroom.

LISD continues to strongly encourage masking in our schools. This is certainly not an issue of the district being anti-mask or anti-mask mandate. It is about following the law, which the district believes is the appropriate approach. We will let the court challenges play out and then make decisions once there is clear legal guidance in place.

Offering virtual learning is a much more complex situation than just hiring more teachers, or allocating more money for virtual learning.

If the district made the decision to offer virtual learning, a very small number of students would be accommodated. In-person class sizes would increase, current class schedules and teachers would be adjusted, and additional teachers would need to be hired. Like most surrounding districts, LISD is still trying to fill teaching vacancies, without factoring the additional teachers needed for a virtual program into our hiring plans.

Taking away resources from in-person learning to create a very limited virtual learning program does not seem feasible or sustainable at this time. We have analyzed this extensively and are prioritizing in-person learning.

LISD is following TEA guidelines for quarantine. Students and staff with a positive case are required to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms OR 10 days from a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 test.

It would be a misleading interpretation of the data to just look at the numbers themselves without factoring in the collection method behind them, and say there was a significant increase from week one to week two. A more appropriate comparison will be between week two and week three. Week one data reflects a period where students were in class for three days and the tracker only shows positive cases of students who attended school that week.”

Caroline Vandergriff