The Douglas County School District is bracing for a switch back to remote education.
In a Nov. 6 letter, interim Superintendent Corey Wise warned the community that the district could soon consider a transition back to remote learning if current COVID-19 trends continue going “in the wrong direction.” The district garnered a worse score on its "Decision Dashboard," which scores the district based on a number of COVID-19 metrics, for two weeks in a row as of Nov. 6.
The district's elementary students remain in full in-person learning, while middle and high school students undergo hybrid learning. But Wise recommended families begin preparations for a switch to remote learning, “should remote learning become necessary.”
“The best chance we have of keeping our schools open is if everyone continues to do their part by wearing face coverings in public, avoiding large gatherings, social distancing when possible and washing and disinfecting hands often,” Wise wrote.
Wise noted the entire state and nation are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, saying “we are seeing a similar increase in cases here in Douglas County and in our schools.”
Between Oct. 25 and Nov. 2, there were 160 positive cases in schools, which forced 3,700 students and 450 into quarantine, according to Wise's letter.
This month alone, the district has issued nearly 40 letters to school communities alerting them of COVID-19 exposures and quarantines.
For most the schools, whole classes transitioned to virtual learning while quarantines got underway. The district's before and after school care program closed temporarily at one elementary school following a possible exposure.
ThunderRidge High School switched the entire school to virtual learning for the second time this semester as more teachers entered quarantine than there were available substitute teachers.
The school began virtual learning on Nov. 4 and students can return to in-person learning by Nov. 16.
Wise said in his letter that the substitute teacher shortage and frequency of quarantines causes disruption and forces “our students and teachers to constantly transition between in-person and remote learning.”
He thanked teachers “for their resiliency and willingness” to transition learning models when asked, staff who conduct contact tracing, and numerous other district employees for their handling of COVID-19's fallout in the school system.
“We will continue to keep you updated in the coming days about what may be next for our amazing school district,” Wise said.
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