Kansas City area district closes schools, goes virtual due to staff, student illness

Mike Householder/AP
·2 min read

During widespread COVID-19 outbreaks, another Kansas City area school district is shifting to virtual classes because too many staff members and students have called in sick.

The Belton school district, in Cass County about 20 minutes south of Kansas City, has closed schools and is holding online-only classes Friday through Tuesday. District officials hope that enough staff members will be able to return so that classes can resume in person on Wednesday.

“We understand these are not ideal circumstances or conditions for our families, students, and staff. Please know we are doing our best to provide students with a safe environment where learning can still happen and meals are provided,” officials said in the announcement.

The district will use its limited number of hours granted by the state for remote learning. Both Missouri and Kansas placed restrictions on remote learning for this school year, which has led several local districts to close schools entirely for a few days due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

In Missouri, if a class or building must temporarily close, districts can submit a plan to the state, which could allow them up to 36 hours of alternative instruction, such as remote learning. Kansas allows 40 hours of remote learning per student.

The Odessa school district, east of Kansas City, on Wednesday announced that it would hold classes virtually on Thursday and Friday.

But most other districts in similar situations have closed, either because they want to save their remote hours or they don’t have enough staff to cover remote classes. They will have to make up the time either by counting the days as snow days or by adding days or hours to the school year.

Students in both the Olathe and Kansas City, Kansas, districts returned to schools on Thursday after closures earlier this week.

The St. Joseph school district canceled all classes this week. And the Knob Noster school district, in Johnson County, Missouri, on Wednesday extended school closures through Friday, after first closing last Friday. The nearby Warrensburg district also canceled classes on Thursday and Friday.

Other Kansas City area districts, including Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, Park Hill, Raymore-Peculiar, are warning families to prepare for school closures as keeping doors open becomes increasingly difficult with massive staff shortages.

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