As many local districts close, some, are able to remain open

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. – While a lot of districts are halting in-person learning, some schools are still in session. We spoke with one of those districts still in session.

Only a small number of districts in our area are still in session Friday, as so many others have cancelled classes. But it’s not always because of a COVID outbreak within the districts themselves, it’s a staffing shortage, from teachers and other staff doing the right thing, and staying home when they’re not feeling well. The Carl Junction R-1 District is one of the few, still staffed enough to hold classes. Superintendent Dr. Phil Cook says “We seem to be holding our own in that area, we are down a few staff members, but again, it’s not out of normal for this time of year.”

Cook says they look at a number of factors to determine whether or not they’ll cancel classes. One of those, is attendance numbers. Cook says the district plan is if they drop below 80%, they’ll cancel. “And again, 80’s an arbitrary number, it’s more just what do you feel in your gut and what do you feel in your heart is the right thing for the safety of our kids.”

Right now, cook says they’re just below 90% attendance, and they’re watching it closely. While they’re still open, they are facing some staffing shortages. Cook says the most impacted building is the K-1st Grade building. “Our other buildings have been helping out, sending some folks over to help cover where needed, and it’s kind of a team effort and we’re all putting in where we need to and helping out and keeping our doors open for our kids to come to school.”

Cook says more than 70% of the staff is vaccinated and that coupled in with cleaning, is keeping COVID numbers low in the district. When asked if the district has been facing pressure from the community with the other districts closing, Cook says, he hasn’t heard any negative feedback. “I hope that they have some trust in us, that we have a track record of making decisions based upon, like I said, common sense, what’s good for our kids and what’s good for our community’s safety.”

Carl Junction is still holding classes on Friday. Other districts that have cancelled say they’re planning to return to class on Tuesday, following the upcoming holiday on Monday.