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'Desperate times right now': Parents demand action after another record day of COVID-19 cases in Conroe ISD

With no mask mandate in place and cases spiking to new highs, parents fear schools will soon have to shut down.

CONROE, Texas — Conroe ISD's COVID-19 spike continues to get worse. Twelve days into the new school year and case counts hit another record high Monday.

Parents' concerns are growing as more children are getting sick.

RELATED: LIST: School COVID case dashboards for districts across the Houston area

"Sure enough, it only took a few days in and he's already positive," Jessica Snyder said.

Snyder is one of many families in the district with kids sick at home fighting COVID-19.

"My worst fear came true after only a few days into the school year," Snyder said.

Her worst fear is turning into reality across the district.

"It's a pretty startling kind of curve," Steve Powell said.

Powell's son also tested positive for COVID-19.

"Makes you concerned ... Am I putting him at risk by putting him in that environment?" Powell said.

It's a common question among parents closely watching the CISD's COVID-19 dashboard. On Monday, a new record - 401 positive COVID cases - was reported. It more than doubled last week's record.

"It's just going to continue to spread," Snyder said.

In all, there are 1,401 active cases across CISD campuses. That includes students and employees. The problem is deeper when you look at absences - 9% of students were out on Friday. One year ago that number was 1%.

"He's going to go back when he's able next week and half his class is already gone," Snyder said. "I don't know how, without something being done, this is going to be sustainable for the future."

Despite pleas from parents at last week's board meeting to consider a mask mandate, CISD said it's not an option.

Superintendent Dr. Curtis Null was not available for an interview on Monday but district spokeswoman Sarah Blakelock sent us this statement:

"Unfortunately, Dr. Null is not available for an interview, but he did address this in a video message to employees and families on Friday. Conroe ISD administrators are concerned about the rise of COVID-19 cases in our community. Our District is currently at a Safety Alert Level 4 (out of 5), and asking our families and employees to give strong consideration to mask usage during this COVID-19 spike. We know how vital in-person instruction is for our students, and the coming days are critical."

"It's so frustrating and it's scary ... what's to come?" Snyder said. "These kids need to be in school. They need to stay open. We're in desperate times right now."

If CISD were to reach level 5, per the district's protocols, closing campuses would be on the table. Experts said it's avoidable with masks and vaccinations.

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