Osseo School District Switches to Distance Learning Due to Staff Absences
The COVID-19 surge is causing some local schools to return to distance learning. Minnesota’s test positivity rate has reached 19.1 percent, according to Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) data released Tuesday, a pandemic record. The seven-day average case counts are also surpassing previous highs.
On Tuesday, middle schools and high schools in the Osseo School District transitioned to distance learning because of the high number of staff and students who are out sick. Some schools had 25 percent of their staff absent, making it challenging to do in-person learning. Elementary schools will move to online classes on Wednesday.
“Every building is impacted shortages right now, with double-digit staff absences,” said Superintendent Cory McIntyre.
District officials say Friday was a tipping point, as almost 600 staff were absent at Minnesota’s fifth-largest district.
“We have just hit a threshold that we cannot safely serve our students and really keep everyone safe,” explained McIntyre.
Shortage of substitute teachers
The district, like many others, is also dealing with a shortage of substitute teachers. Employees were filling in classrooms and some teachers used their prep times to cover classrooms.
“Just meeting the basic needs of our students and that starts with simple things like transportation, our food services, like our nurses and health offices, and childcare. We were very stressed in all those areas,” said McIntyre.
The plan is to have all scholars return to the classroom on Jan. 24. Meanwhile, students who need access to the internet can still go to their school to participate in virtual learning.