As superintendent, I have stood firm over the last several months in my belief that school is the best and safest place for most students. That belief has not changed. I have said from the beginning that we would keep our schools open as long as we had staff available to transport students to school, feed our students, and to teach our students.
Our employees were scheduled to return to work today. We have been working all morning to determine how many are able to return to work this week. This afternoon, our system COVID response team met to review our current staff availability in the three critical areas of transportation, nutrition, and instruction. As of today our transportation department has been the hardest hit by the virus. Currently, we have 12 drivers unavailable to run routes tomorrow. One of those was added to the list in the last hour. In addition, one of our key transportation leaders is in quarantine. Our schools have 35 staff members out and that number continues to increase. Due to the current surge of the virus in our community we expect the availability of bus drivers and other staff to be impacted further in the coming days.
I regret that based on the diminishing availability of staff, we have no choice but to delay the return of our students from the Christmas holidays.
The holidays will be extended by two days for students. We will then move to a temporary learning from home model on Thursday, January 7th. Online instruction will be scheduled from January 7th to January 22nd. We will do everything possible to have students back in school on January 25th. I want to emphasize that online learning will be temporary. I want our students back in school as soon as we have staff available to do so.
Extending the holidays by two days will give schools the time they need to plan for the logistics of going online and to communicate with parents and students on the details of temporary online learning.
All schools will communicate with parents no later than this evening regarding the details of online learning, including when Chromebooks can be picked up.
Meals will be available for pick up at all schools during the temporary learning from home period. More information regarding nutrition will be released this week.
Athletic and extra curricular activities will continue as scheduled.