School has been canceled Friday for students of Eudora Public Schools as a spike in COVID-19 cases has coincided with a shortage of substitute teachers.
The closure comes as new cases continue to rise countywide.
“When available, our substitute teachers do an incredible job of working with our students to ensure that learning continues and that our classrooms are positive, productive, and safe,” Eudora Superintendent Stu Moeckel wrote in a message posted on the district’s website Thursday. “Our current reality is that we simply do not have enough substitutes to appropriately maintain operations.”
Moeckel wrote that the district has reached a point with staffing that requires it to “hit a reset” and extend the long weekend.
Lawrence schools have seen a shortage in substitutes, too, though the Times was not aware early Friday of any buildings forced to close because of short staffing.
In an update to the Lawrence school board Monday, Superintendent Anthony Lewis shared that on Jan. 6, 117 staff members were absent; on Jan. 7, 147 were absent; and Monday, 104. The substitute teaching fill rates were 87.7%, 83% and 81%, respectively.
As of early Friday, the number of new cases in Lawrence students and staff members so far in January alone — 202 — represented 38.7% of the 522 districtwide cases reported so far this school year. The district also reported nearly 500 students in quarantine.
The Kansas State Board of Education, recognizing that districts are pressed to find substitutes statewide, has temporarily suspended a requirement that licenses for substitute teachers be limited to applicants who completed 60 credit hours of college courses.
In addition to closing Eudora schools, there will be no activities or practices Friday, according to the district’s announcement. Both districts will be closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“Please afford us grace as we work to problem-solve this challenge and know that student safety and student learning are at the forefront of our decision-making in these instances,” Moeckel wrote. “We implore you to help over the long weekend by exercising best mitigation practices. Together we will overcome this.”