Raymore-Peculiar School District warns families of possible closures due to COVID-19

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Posted at 4:37 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 17:37:36-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Raymore-Peculiar School District has warned families that school closures could be necessary if staff absences increase.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Slagle sent an email to families Wednesday letting them know about the challenges the district is facing in regards to staffing schools.

"Given the current trajectory in the number of positive COVID-19 cases and the lack of available staff to backfill key positions, there is the possibility we may be forced to close a classroom or facilities for a temporary period of time," the email said. "I assure you that this is our last choice to deal with the issue before us, and we will do everything in our power to prevent closures."

Slagle asked that families think about a "personal contingency plan" in case of school closures.

The email said that teachers in the district have been covering for other teachers during their plan periods and staff members have been filling in for key positions throughout the day.

"This includes all of our non-classroom instructional staff, principals and assistant principals, district office staff, as well as many substitute teachers as we can find to help cover classes," the email said. "On the operations side of the district, custodians and buildings/grounds staff have been working overtime to cover absences for each other to make sure our classrooms are cleaned and the grounds are safe for school."

Food and nutrition staff, school nurses, building administrative assistants and others are also experiencing the stress of COVID-related absences.

The email said that the district's extended day child care staff and transportation company are having daily discussions about how to staff key positions.

"Though we have been able to accomplish the task to this point, it has taken an incredible effort on the part of every staff member in this organization," the email said. "I am hopeful we can continue to meet this challenge, but each day is becoming increasingly difficult."

If school closures become necessary due to increased staffing absences, the district will consider school closures in two different steps.

The first is to move to short-term virtual learning environment at the high school and then middle school levels and hopefully allow the district to reallocate staff members to keep the elementary schools in-person.

The second step is, if staff shortages continue after moving the secondary schools virtual, the district will move to a short-term virtual learning environment for all grades between early childhood through 12th grade.

The district also said that individual building closures are also possible due to student absence rates.

Starting Wednesday, the district's elementary schools will be sending devices home each day with students in case closures are implemented on short notice.

The email also asked that families stay vigilant and asked students to stay home if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.

"Face coverings continue to be highly recommended by everyone when physical distancing cannot be achieved," the email said. "Additionally, I encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider about vaccinations to see if they are right for your child."

Last week, the district changed their COVID-19 contact tracing policies to alert entire classes if someone tested positive instead of tracing each student occurrence.

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