DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - North Texas school districts are continuing to rework their pandemic policies as cases of COVID-19 hit unprecedented numbers.
Some students will be returning to school from Labor Day weekend to classrooms with new mask mandates in place.
Others will be temporarily moved to virtual learning due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
"COVID cases have increased in several school districts in the county, and around North Texas," said Christian Grisales, the public information officer for Dallas County Health & Human Services. "That is alarming."
According to data from the state, there were 1,272 student cases confirmed in Texas during the week of August 8.
That number increased 2,000% over the next three weeks to more than 27,000.
With nearly a quarter of students out due to quarantine or illness, students and staff were moved to virtual-only instruction for 10 days – a decision made in collaboration with DCHHS.
"We basically advise those districts that are seeing the surge, but we don't set policy on what to do in school districts," Grisales said.
RISD's school board plans to re-evaluate its protocols at the beginning of October.
Over the weekend, North Texas hospitals had the highest number of pediatric COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council.
Health officials believe the delta variant spreads more easily than previous strains of the virus and impacts children to a greater degree.
"We don't want to send children to places where they can get sick, and definitely in a school setting it's likely that children can get COVID if they're not vaccinated, if they're not wearing masks," said Grisales.
Just last week, Duncanville and Coppell ISDs joined the growing list of North Texas school districts to enact mask mandates in an effort to stop the spread.
Health officials continue to urge parents to get themselves and their eligible children vaccinated.
"This situation is preventable," Grisales said. "We don't have to see these cases going up. We can do something, and let's do it today. Let's do it this week. Let's do it now so we can finally beat the virus."
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