Local school districts move to virtual learning

School districts across the four states are facing the tough decision to temporarily go back to virtual learning.

The Carthage school district announced Monday night they would be transitioning virtually for the rest of the week.

“We anticipated numbers to increase once we returned from Christmas break. It’s just an obvious thing. However, the numbers for being quarantined and positive cases just were higher than we anticipated,” said Carthage Superintendent Mark Baker.

Absences among staff and students played a large role in the decision to move to AMI learning.

“We had 104 staff members absent yesterday morning and a group as the day continued. Obviously, we had a lot of kids gone also, and it just had to happen. We needed to cancel school. We also do not have school on Monday, so this is going to give us about five days separated to hopefully slow the spread down.”

Carthage isn’t alone in this decision, other four state schools like Miami, Commerce, Grove, Pittsburg, Neosho, Webb City, Riverton, and Frontenac will be virtual for the remainder of the week.

For more information on local schools going virtual, click here.

KOAM reached out to Grove Public Schools for comment, and they sent us a statement that reads:

“We decided to transition to distance learning due to a high volume of sick students, 94 of which are COVID related. We also are experiencing a high volume of sick teachers (6-7 at each site) and not enough substitutes to cover classes. I believe in-person learning is our best option when available, however, the past two years have prepared us to continue student learning virtually on a short-term basis and allow time for teachers and students to get well. Our maintenance staff will conduct deep cleaning and disinfectant fogging the next few days to sanitize our school. We will resume our regular schedule on Tuesday, January 18 as Monday we will observe Martin Luther King Day. ”

-Pat Dodson, Superintendent, Grove Public Schools

While some schools have decided to go virtual due to cases in the district, others districts like Mcdonald County say they haven’t met the numbers needed to go virtual.

“So right now, where it’s school, as normal as it can get during these situations, we’re still doing in-school learning,” said Ken Schutten, Media Communications Coordinator for McDonald County Schools.   “We do have some issues with several people and kids being out of school due to sickness and other things. But as it stands right now, as we’re talking, we’re still in school learning.”

Schutten also added that the option to go virtual remains on the table, but staff are stepping up to ensure that won’t have to happen.

“What our administrators have been doing all day and we’ll continue to do is to check in with the schools to find out what their attendance is, and really the issue now with many of these schools is staffing the schools because it seems like that this round of sickness and not only COVID but also different things had really affected the staffing of a lot of these schools.”

Schutten said the district is thankful for its staff for being flexible. 

“Our dedicated staff has done a fantastic job of covering what we’ve got now, situations we have now in certain buildings as we have, they’re pulling staff from like reading coaches and paraprofessionals that we have in those buildings, as well as principals are helping to fill the positions in these classrooms so that these kids can continue to get the education that they really need.”

The Joplin school district will also be open for the time being and made the announcement on their Facebook page 

“School is Open on Thursday, January 13, 2022!

Again, the first three days of school that are canceled, regardless of reason, will be made up at the end of May. And make-up days four through eight will initiate AMI. Students will be expected to complete work on AMI days.
We had 15% of staff and 17.5 % of students out today. We have been able to remain open and plan, at this time, to be in session tomorrow, January 13, 2022. Should the District make a decision to close school anytime between now and the remainder of the school year, we would make up the first three days on May 25, 26, & 27.
Additional make-up days (days 4 through 8 ) would initiate Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) days. Your students’ teachers should be communicating AMI expectations to you.
Again, the first three days of school that are canceled, regardless of reason, will be made up at the end of May. And make-up days four through eight will initiate AMI. Students will be expected to complete work on AMI days.”