Early childhood centers affected by COVID-related teacher shortage

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SISD officials said a high number of absences and staff shortages led the district to transition to remote learning for two of its campuses over the past week.
SISD officials said a high number of absences and staff shortages led the district to transition to remote learning for two of its campuses over the past week.

Amid high absences and COVID cases, two Sherman Independent School District campuses are expected to remain in remote learning through the remainder of the week. Students at Fred Douglass and Perrin Early Childhood centers will continue to have remote classes until next week.

Officials do not expect the campuses to return to in-person learning until February.

The decision to return to remote learning for some SISD campuses comes amid an upswing in COVID-19 cases and a shortage of both teaching staff and substitute teachers, who are also falling ill from the disease.

"Right now we are optimistic it is just going to be this week," SISD Communications Director Arena Blake said Monday night. "Like I said, our numbers today were significantly better than they were last week, and I think we are seeing people get well and they are able to come back."

On Jan. 13, the district sent home letters to the families of students at the two campuses to inform them that classes would be held remotely starting on Jan.18 and running through the week. Blake attributed this decision to an unusually high number of absences at the campus from COVID and other winter ailments.

"There are a lot of COVID cases, but there is also other illnesses or people needing routine things," She said. "In the winter, we already have a high number of people who are out due to being sick and other things, but now it is compounded with COVID."

As the week progressed, numbers remained high and district officials decided to extend the remote learning by an additional week. With the transition, the district was able to consolidate classes to a smaller number of teachers, which freed up staff to assist elsewhere.

"It has been really helpful because it has been a team approach," she said. "When we went to those two campuses, and talked to them about this situation we were met with great attitudes and everyone was ready to jump in and do their part."

These staff members and other support staff from the district administration building have been filling in for teachers at other campuses across the district as many campuses have seen an increasing number of staff calling in sick.

Sent home a letter on Jan. 13 that the two campuses would be closed the Tuesday after MLK Jr. Day for the week. Illnesses. COVID combined with seasonal illness. This combined with a shortage of subs led the district to transition the campuses for the week

While the district would normally be able to fill these holes with substitute teachers, Blake said there have not bee enough substitutes to fill this need as many of them have been getting sick.

"Even the people who normally sub are getting sick," she said. "We have people who traditionally come in and sub and help out, but they haven't been able to because they have been sick too."

The district reevaluated at the end of the week and decided to continue remote learning into this week.

"There are a lot of COVID cases, but there is also other illnesses or people needing routine things. In the winter, we already have a high number of people who are out due to being sick and other things, but now it is compounded with COVID.

Blake remained optimistic that the district has seen the worst of the current surge of COVID-19 but said the district continues to monitor the situation.

"Hopefully we are hitting the peak and getting better, but that could change," she said.

This article originally appeared on Herald Democrat: Early childhood centers affected by COVID-related teacher shortage

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