Thousands of Killeen Independent School District students and hundreds of staff were absent on the first day back from holiday break Wednesday, but district officials couldn’t confirm how many of the absences were COVID-related.
“There was a total of 440 employees absent today for a variety of reasons to include long-term disability, bereavement, professional development, personal leave, Dr. Appointment/illness, and vacation,” KISD spokeswoman Taina Maya said in response to Herald questions Wednesday.
Of the district’s 2,944 teachers, Maya said 186 were absent “at some point” Wednesday.
“Once again, the absence could be due to a variety of reasons as stated above,” she said.
The district said a total of 5,414 students were absent from school Wednesday.
Last semester, she said the district had an average attendance rate of 92%. Wednesday’s attendance rate, she said, was about 88%.
When asked how many of the staff absences were due to COVID-19, Maya said staff could be absent for a number of reasons.
“Employees can be absent for a variety of reasons,” she said. “When an employee enters a Dr/illness day, they could be going to the doctor, caring for a child, have allergies, have been exposed to COVID-19, tested positive for COVID-19, have the flu, or have a completely unrelated sickness that requires them to be absent.”
In regards to the number of student COVID-19 cases, Maya said that data was not available Wednesday “as most parents submit medical appointment/doctor’s notes upon a student’s return to school.”
KISD reported 1,941 student cases of COVID-19 and 458 cases among staff in the four months before Christmas break, between Aug. 2 through Dec. 12, according to the most recent report available from the Texas Department of State Health Services. KISD has some 44,000 students and 6,000 employees in total, meaning about 4% of students and 7% of employees reportedly caught COVID this fall.