KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – While several Tri-Cities school districts are out of school on Tuesday due to weather, Kingsport City Schools (KCS) has closed because of other issues.
On Monday, KCS tweeted that they would be closed Tuesday, Jan. 18 “due to staffing & illness.”
On Monday night, KCS officials told News Channel 11 that the weather conditions afforded the district the opportunity to catch a breather amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
“We have been looking really at holistically at our staffing situation and our illness level,” said assistant superintendent Andy True. “The decision was made to go ahead and another day onto the long weekend.”
Last week, almost 250 cases of COVID-19 were reported across the school system, and that is not the only illness forcing staff to go home.
True said the additional day off means isolated students will miss less time in the classroom.
“On the heels of a long weekend, that allows some of those timing issues to be dealt with,” True said. “I think the hope then is that taking this extra day will put us in a better position moving forward.”
You can check the KCS COVID-19 dashboard by clicking here.
As of late Tuesday morning, True said the district is planning to have kids back in the classroom Wednesday. According to True, the staffing situation is assessed each day while the schools battle a mix of COVID-19, the flu and other general illnesses.
“A main thing we look at is not the [number] of staff out, but do we have the ability to cover those absences with substitutes, other staff, etc.,” True said in a statement Tuesday. “We also look at specific employee groups. For instance, a relatively small amount of absences in some groups (i.e. bus drivers, nutrition workers), can have a huge impact, especially if you don’t have additional coverage. For instance, it’s one thing if a school has 4 teachers out, but if they have 4 cafeteria workers out, that can really hurt food operations.”