Due to staff shortages and student absences, Willard Public Schools is moving to virtual learning for the rest of the week.
The 4,500-student district in northwest Greene County notified families and employees Tuesday that the change will start Wednesday.
The move to virtual learning is expected to be in place through at least Friday.
"We'll reevaluate at the end of the week and hopefully be able to have everyone come back to in-person learning on Monday, is the goal," said Dan Ortega, the director of communications.
Ortega said Superintendent Matt Teeter and the school board agreed with the move.
The region, along with the rest of Missouri, has experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant. Willard, and other districts, are seeing an uptick in cases of the flu and strep throat, among other ailments.
Shane Dublin, assistant superintendent of academics, said the absences are higher and the number of available substitutes is a challenge. "Of those that were gone, we were only looking at filling about 60 percent of those absences."
Dublin did not immediately have the student attendance rate available for Tuesday, the first day back after the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
"We had a pretty significant number gone from middle school and high school," he said.
Dublin and Eric Wilken, assistant superintendent of operations, said COVID accounted for about 5 percent of the absences among employees.
For the rest of the week, the district will be using its alternative methods of instruction or AMI process, which is similar to what it does for snow days.
"All kids will have their devices. We're also providing (WiFi) hotspots for those who need internet service," he said. "It will start tomorrow so really there won't be a break in learning."
The district will provide lunch as a drive-through option in front of Willard High School and Willard Intermediate School South from 10:30 a.m.to noon.
"Announcing now gave students and staff time to prepare," Dublin said Tuesday.
According to a message, school athletics and activities will continue as scheduled this week.
Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Willard schools go to virtual learning Wednesday due to lack of staff