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Nearly 1 out of 10 NISD employees did not return from winter break

First graders wearing masks draw the main parts of a story following the lead of their teacher.
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Northside ISD Communications
A first grade class at Northside ISD's Boone Elementary participate in English Language Arts during the first week of school Aug. 26, 2021.

Nearly one out of 10 employees did not return to work on Monday in the fourth largest school district in Texas and the largest school district in San Antonio.

School officials say there could be a few factors that may be behind the absences in the Northside Independent School District following a two-week holiday-break from classes.

The district employs 13,000 workers, and there were 1,260 no-shows on the first Monday after the holiday vacation.

Northside spokesman Barry Perez said not all of the employees were teachers, but 926 were in positions that would require a substitute.

Perez said they are trying to determine how many of those absences are due to COVID-19 illnesses. He said extremely cold weather Monday morning may have made some employees reluctant to return to work. He added some families may have taken extended holiday vacations.

"Individuals have been out for two weeks. They've been socializing with family and friends and so we knew there might be an uptick in COVID cases. I think the true test is going to be how those numbers hold for the rest of this week," Perez said.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Education News Desk, including H-E-B Helping Here, Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation and Holly and Alston Beinhorn.

School officials were able to round up enough substitutes to fill in for slightly more than half of those teachers who were not in their classes on Monday. He said the fill-in rate will be higher in those classes on Tuesday where they know teachers have also requested a substitute for one reason or another. Perez said classes missing their regular teachers will have an 80% fill in rate by Wednesday.

The district has stepped up efforts to promote and recruit substitute teachers, which are in tight supply for most school districts.

He said any employee or student who is feeling ill and suspect they have COVID-19 should stay home.

Northside student enrollment is just shy 100,000 students; student attendance figures were not due in until later in the day on Monday.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian