(WJHL) – COVID-19 cases continue to cause student absences and staff shortages in schools across the area, forcing some to close on select days.
Kingsport City Schools will be closed on Thursday and Friday, already their second and third day closed for staffing issues since Jan. 1.
“We have seen pretty universally across the district that we’re having positive cases for staff, really at all levels,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Andy True said Tuesday.
The situation is similar for Bristol, Tennessee Schools, which remained closed Monday and will close on the next two Mondays, before hitting their winter break in early February.
Director of Schools Dr. Annette Tudor said it all comes down to ensuring enough there are staff members to hold classes.
“We can push all of our part-time people to the four days, instead of covering five days, as well as substitute teachers covering four days instead of five days,” Tudor said.
Both Tudor and True said that simply switching to a remote learning option this school year is far more nuanced than it was in 2019-2020.
“We did contemplate a waiver from the [health] commissioner to go remote for five days, but the waiver is by classroom or building only,” Tudor said.
“No options like last year in shifting everyone to remote,” she added.
That really changes a little bit about what kind of options school districts have,” True said.
The burden has fallen on healthy employees to stretch out over the entire district, even if it means pulling employees from the district office.
“We’ve had great response from individuals within the district to step up and fill some gaps where we needed to,” True said.
“I went to Tennessee High School Friday morning and I was fully prepared to sub,” Tudor said.
She noted that being off this Monday certainly helped the situation, but the district is by no means in solid shape.
“I would say there were one or two [classes] per building that still were not filled by subs, but we didn’t have five or six that were hard to fill with other support staff,” she said.
“We did not have to do any of that today, so that’s an improvement obviously, but I don’t know what tomorrow brings,” she continued.
Both districts have banked days that can be used during the school year to allow time for professional development of staff, or to call off school due to inclement weather or illness.
Tudor explained that Bristol, Tennessee Schools will have banked days remaining following the string of Mondays. True said Kingsport City Schools will have seven days left after closing on Thursday and Friday.