17 Marfa ISD students and staff test positive, school closed through Monday

17 Marfa ISD students and staff test positive, school closed through Monday

Marfa Independent School District has temporarily closed its campus due to a rise in COVID infections among students and staff. Classes are expected to resume Tuesday of next week.

All classes at both the elementary school and the junior/senior high school are canceled Thursday, January 11 through Monday, January 17, according to Marfa Junior/Senior High School Principal Allison Ryan Scott. 

“We are looking out for the safety of our students and staff, and this is one way we can do that,” said Marfa ISD Superintendent Oscar Aguero.

As of press time, 13 students and four staff members across the campus had tested positive for the virus, said Scott. The outbreak has left the school district without enough teachers to keep classes open.

Most of the students who tested positive have not been on campus since winter break, per Aguero, leading him to believe a five-day hiatus will be sufficient. 

COVID testing will be available to students and staff on Monday from 9 a.m. to noon at the elementary school. The school is encouraging students to wear masks and limit social gatherings.

Marfa ISD is unable to implement a mask mandate for students and staff due to an executive order from Governor Greg Abbott. In August of last year, the Marfa ISD Board decided the superintendent would have the authority to require masks in the event of a school closure due to COVID; but Abbott’s order, though temporarily barred by a federal judge, is back in place as of November following a federal appeals court ruling.

COVID cases have been spiking in the tri-county region, according to local doctors, though dwindling testing supplies have left clinics and pharmacies struggling to keep up with the surge. Though doctors have been unable to verify which variant of the virus their patients test positive for, the omicron variant is currently spreading rapidly throughout the United States. Dr. Christie Alexander of the Marfa Country Clinic told The Big Bend Sentinel last week that she has seen trademark omicron symptoms in her recent patients. Omicron symptoms include sneezing, coughing, runny nose and fatigue.