McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A couple of local school districts will remain closed for a prolonged MLK holiday break due to a continued escalation of coronavirus cases on the South Texas border.

Sharyland Independent School District, which serves students in Hidalgo County, said, “In an abundance of caution and due to a rapid increase in COVID-19 related cases across all of our campuses and facilities,” all schools would remain closed until Wednesday due to coronavirus infections.

In a letter to families, the district said “the decision to close our schools was not easy, but it is in the best health interest of all of our students, staff and the entire community and to offer respite as we navigate the current Omicron surge.”

And San Benito CISD, in Cameron County, will be closed until Thursday due to coronavirus infection, KVEO reported.

Hidalgo County has had 13 confirmed cases of the omicron variant of coronavirus, and a “sub-variant” has been detected.

The county reported 421 new infections and five deaths on Friday. The government office was closed on Monday for the MLK holiday and no new figures have been reported.

Neighboring Cameron County on Friday reported 455 new cases including two deaths.

(Graphic by Cameron County)

Due to the spiking rate of infections, the McAllen Marathon was held virtually on Sunday, allowing participants to log their own runs and times so they didn’t have to cluster with others.

The McAllen Kids Marathon, an event held since 2014 in which children in grades K-8th run the final mile together, also was postponed on Saturday and will be held virtually on individual school campuses.

The South Texas International Film Festival, which was scheduled to open on Wednesday in Edinburg, has been postponed indefinitely. In a Facebook post, festival organizers wrote, “safety for our community is a priority.”

South Texas College begins its spring semester Tuesday, but all classes will be held remotely for the first week due to the coronavirus.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley also will start classes on Tuesday but all instruction will be remote, and in-person classes aren’t slated to start until Jan. 31.

FEMA and state and local officials on Wednesday are opening a regional testing facility in Edinburg that is free to all. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Feb. 4. Appointments can be made at

“It is vital that residents get tested as soon as symptoms arise so they may quarantine and prevent infecting others. That is one of the best ways we will be able to stop the spread,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said.

The City of Laredo also is offering free COVID-19 vaccines and coronavirus tests on weekdays.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at