Some Green Country school districts plan to return to in-person learning this week, while others say they don’t have enough staff to go back to class yet.
Bixby school leaders spent the morning analyzing their staffing plan. They believe they have enough staff to open some sites and the high school on Tuesday.
“We want to keep our schools open but at the same time you’ve got to have the people,” said Bixby Superintendent, Rob Miller.
Miller analyzed a staffing plan with his team to try to cover for sick employees.
So far this year, Bixby has had more than 100 employees test positive for COVID 19. That’s about 1 in every 8 employees in the district.
“This is unprecedented and we’ve never seen numbers like this,” said Miller. “We recognize that it’s difficult on parents too when we make these decisions 24 hours in advance but we truly are doing the best we can to keep schools open but also deal with the shortages we have.”
Miller said the transportation department is fully operational and they’ll have enough nutrition staff to serve meals.
However, they had to leave East and West Elementary. Central Intermediate will stay in distance learning for two more days due to teachers and students in quarantine.
“Those are the ones that have had the largest impact at least over the last few days as far as people being out and we just couldn’t cover all of those absences,” said Miller.
Union Public School Leaders said 145 teachers will be out on Tuesday, with 98 classrooms uncovered districtwide.
They’ll be out January 18 and January 19.
On January 14, Broken Arrow had 710 employees out sick.
They’ll be in distance learning all week.
Miller said they know in person learning is the best option, but distance learning is the best alternative.
“I’ve watched quite a few distance learning lessons take place between a teacher and students and it’s pretty high quality,” said Miller. “It’s never as good as in person but it really is the next best thing for some of these short duration pivots to distance learning. It’s better-quality instruction than taking kids, combining classes, combining them in a gym and just occupying their time. At the end of the day, if we want instruction to continue in a high-quality way, it requires that teacher.”
Miller said he commends the teachers for being willing to come back to in-person teaching.
“To ask them to come back and be in person with our students knowing that COVID is spreading like it is, is an agonizing decision because I don’t want our staff to get sick either,” said Miller.
School Leaders encourage parents to keep an eye on their normal communication channels in case they need to make a sudden switch.
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