FILER — In an unprecedented move, the Filer School District temporarily closed down all of its schools for ten days just three days into the school year. The school district says this was partially due to a lack of substitute teachers and rising COVID-19 cases.
“You know, it seemed the situation was they were either having to double up on class size or covering other rooms on their prep periods. Or they had too many kids gone that they only had a few kids in their class," Kelli Schroeder, Superintendent for the Filer School District, said.
The school district announced its decision last week on its website. Saying excessive staff absences and a lack of substitute teachers made it hard to keep up with staffing.
The rise in COVID-19 cases among staff and students made the problem more difficult to handle.
“We started school after labor day, and our numbers with students and staff members out with COVID were high right away," Schroeder said.
The school district said they had more than 30 positive cases in week two, and that same pattern was flowing into week three.
“In some of our schools, we were having about 20% of the student population was out. Whether they were out for illness, COVID, quarantine whatever the reason there was a large chunk of students out as well as staff members and we were having a hard time staffing," Schroeder said.
The lack of substitute teachers has been an issue even before the pandemic. But with more teachers having to miss school, they say the problem just got worse.
“We’ve been able to cover in the past. It wasn’t staff members who were sick were out a day or two, they’re missing a week two weeks of school, and that’s what brought it all to light,” Schroeder said.
The school district is hoping the ten-day closure helps everyone get back to a healthier state, but they also have a plan moving forward.
“We were able to get some mitigation strategies in place to maybe not have everyone mixing and mingling as much anymore to kind of help slow that spread a little," Schroeder said.
The district is in the process of hiring more substitute teachers, which they hope will help prevent this problem in the future.
“We’re ready for Monday. We’re ready for the kids to come back," Schroeder said.