JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Staffing issues due to COVID-19 continues to impact school districts across the state, forcing the Jefferson City School District to transition middle and high school students to distance learning.
According to the district, Thursday will be the last day of in-seat learning for those students, and students will not have class Friday so staff can prepare for the transition.
Virtual learning for middle and high school students will begin on Monday and continue through Nov. 20, then the entire district is out for Thanksgiving break the next week.
Students are set to resume in-seat learning after Nov. 30. However, if that changes for any reason staff and parents will be notified.
Teachers will teach students via Google Classroom and connect live with students for a portion of each class throughout the school day.
Meals will be made available for pick-up between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at LCMS, TJMS, JCHS and CCHS.
All extra-curricular activities will continue with normal operations and practice and game schedules.
District spokeswoman Ryan Burns said since the beginning of November 80 staff members have either tested positive for COVID-19 or have been quarantined due to exposure. Half of those work in elementary, while the other half are secondary staff.
As of Wednesday, the district has reported 325 cases of COVID-19 in staff and students and quarantined 482. Seven new cases were reported on Wednesday, and 22 people asked to quarantine.
She said this move will allow any secondary education staff who aren't teaching distance learning to cover some of the absences at the elementary level, hoping to alleviate some of the strain of staffing in those buildings
The staffing issue has struck several school districts in Mid-Missouri, and state education leaders are trying to figure out what to do next. Deputy Executive Director of the Missouri School Board Association Brent Ghan said this is a state-wide "crisis."
"It's a really difficult situation school districts are facing, and we are certainly seeing this pattern across the state right now as the coronavirus surges really throughout the state," Ghan said.
He said the issue was discussed at the State Board of Education, but they are also struggling to find solutions to keep in-person learning going.
"Right now, there just don't seem to be any good option out there," Ghan said.
The crisis is exaggerated by a lack of substitute teachers, Ghan mentioned.
"I know school districts are doing everything they can to maintain in-person learning, but it's simply not possible in some situations right now," Ghan said.
The Jefferson City School District previously moved middle schools online in October for two weeks citing the same issues, and the superintendent said at the School board meeting on Monday they continue to believe in-person learning is the best option.
Ghan said moving back and forth from virtual to online learning can be hard on teachers, students and parents, but districts are running out of options.
"There are no good decisions right now, but in some cases districts have no choice other than to go to virtual when the virus is surging this way," Ghan said.
Watch ABC17 News at 9 and 10 for a full report.