Parents, students react to Belton School District return to virtual learning

Jennifer Lancaster parent of Belton student
Posted at 8:55 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 23:29:21-05

BELTON, Mo. — 79 staff members called out sick across the Belton school district Thursday.

There weren't substitutes to fill 25 of those absences and so, starting Friday, students will go back to virtual learning.

"It'd be like a snow day, but we'd be at home and working or still do schoolwork," Cassie Lancaster, a middle schooler in the district said.

Lancaster doesn't mind that she'll do her learning online Friday, Monday and Tuesday, but she'd rather be in the classroom

"I like it, having teachers right there, being able to directly explain it to me," Lancaster said.

However, there are dozens of teachers and staff members in the district fighting COVID-19, which is putting a strain on classrooms, bus routes and school cafeterias.

"On a typical day, we might have a few positions that we couldn't fill by with a substitute, but to have 25 positions, you know, even if you spread those across, it puts a strain on our staff," Andrew Underwood, Superintendent of schools at the Belton School District said.

To alleviate the situation the district is tapping into the five days the state of Missouri has set aside for the pandemic and bad weather to go remote.

"I mean, my kids prefer being in school, but my kids also wear a mask every single day and they're both vaccinated," Lindsey Buckley, a parent said. "So I mean, I'm doing my part and I wish other people would do the same and then we wouldn't have them home."

Administrators hope the time apart will help slow the spread of the virus and give custodial staff a chance to disinfect their buildings.

"Well they do need to do deep cleaning of the school," Jennifer Lancaster, Cassie's mother said. "My kids have come in contact a couple of times, but we've never had COVID yet."

And while students won't be in the classroom, school leaders are making arrangements to provide meals during the three days of online learning.

"I thought when this has started back in March of 2020, that I honestly said surely by January '22, will be in a much better spot, but I just don't know that we're probably worse off as far as the spread of this virus right now than we were back then," Underwood said.

If the district ends up using the two remaining days of alternative instruction, they'll have to make the day's up at the end of the school year.

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