KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The recent spike in COVID-19 cases and associated quarantines continue to cause staffing headaches at area school districts.
In a letter to parents Monday, the Grain Valley School District said it was not able to fill the “vast majority” of teacher and staff absences and would use Tuesday as a measuring stick of whether it would need to close schools this week.
Grain Valley School District Superintendent Brad Welle said in a statement to KSHB 41 that this consideration in Grain Valley comes after the district noticed they were not able to fill teacher and staff absences. That rate sat at 37.9 percent Monday, meaning the majority of teachers and staff absences were not filled with substitutes.
In an update on Tuesday, the district said conditions had improved, and the absence fill rate had climbed into the 40 percentile group. This meaning that the district was no longer in danger of needing to close schools, though it would continue to monitor “closely.”
Although schools will likely remain open, “significant” staffing shortages have led to the district closing its Early Childhood Center to close Wednesday and Thursday, with classes set to resume on Tuesday, Jan. 18 after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
"We are committed to keeping our schools open and learning in person, but our substitute fill rates have been dropping steadily since the Holidays," Welle said in the statement. "We have several full-time positions available and are also in desperate need of substitute teachers. Anyone wishing to join our team can start the application process from our website. Full-time employees living outside Grain Valley may bring their school-aged children to attend our schools."
KSHB 41 spoke with the Missouri State Teachers Association to see if these issues are happening statewide. Todd Fuller, Spokesperson with MSTA, says these issues in Grain Valley are happening across the state. Fuller asks that families be flexible with school districts and have empathy for those educators in the classrooms.
"It's not a matter at this point of whether we want to debate the issue of masks, it's a matter of a virus that is highly contagious that will essentially burn itself through a school building, and through a school district," Fuller said. "It may move quickly but at the same time, it may move through the district, and everybody needs to be prepared for that, and everybody needs to be flexible, and they need to be ready to do what they can as a community, and as a district if a building has to such down for a number of days, or a district has to shut down for a number of days."
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