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Callaway County school districts continue to monitor staffing levels amid COVID-19 pandemic

North Callaway County High School
ABC17 News
North Callaway County High School

CALLAWAY COUNTY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Staffing levels at school buildings has been a top priority for several school districts across Mid-Missouri, as students returned to the classroom for the 2020 school year.

In addition to the risk of students, teachers and staff isolating because they have a positive case of COVID-19, districts must also consider the number of people from the district in quarantine due to exposure to a positive case inside or outside of school.

At the Fulton School Board's last meeting, Superintendent Ty Crane said staffing is the number one challenge the district faces amid the pandemic.

Fulton School district is currently reporting no active cases of COVID-19 among students or staff, while 21 are in quarantine due to close contact, according to it's website.

A spokeswoman for the district said in an email staffing remains at an adequate level, but the district continues to monitor the fluid situation.

This is also a priority for smaller school districts in Callaway County. North Callaway R-1 School district superintendent Nicky Kemp said the district is at a good spot right now.

As of Wednesday, the district is reporting two active cases within the district. Kemp said right now 16 individuals are in quarantine after exposure either in or outside of school. She said the district is fortunate because it's five buildings are far apart.

"We're not in close proximity with everybody in the same centralized area, so for us, it happens in small pockets for our quarantine," Kemp said.

She said the district looks at staffing levels every morning and night to make sure they have enough for each different building

"Each building is a little bit different size, so that ratio is going to be a little bit different of what would cause us not to be able to come to school on a particular day," Kemp said. "How many people could be pulled to cover CORE classrooms and once we would reach that number obviously we would have nowhere else to go but virtual."

Students have been using virtual options within the district to prepare for a shift to virtual learning for a period of time if need be, according to Kemp.

She also mentioned the work being done by the Callaway County Health Department, saying the contact tracing efforts have been thorough, only quarantining those who were not able to social distance or were in close contact for 15 minutes or more.

"That has really helped us because we are able to keep more staff members and more students in the classrooms, and we're not seeing necessarily an uptick of cases," Kemp said.

ABC 17 reached out to the Callaway County Health Department about their contract tracing efforts, but did not immediately receive a response.

According to the state's COVID-19 dashboard for school districts, there have been a total of 13 school-aged children (5-19) test positive for the virus within the North Callaway School District boundary as of September 20. There have been 45 in Fulton School District's boundaries.

The rate of reproduction (R0) or the number of people estimated to be infected by one positive case is at 1.17 for the entire central district of Missouri, as of September 23. An R0 of 1 is the goal.

A spokeswoman for Governor Mike Parson responded to a question over email about how the state is addressing staffing issues in school districts by saying the governor "believes students should be back in school," and "he has shown great support for schools across the state."

Watch ABC17 News at 9 and 10 for the full report.

Callaway / Coronavirus / Education / Top Stories / Top Stories
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Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.

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