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Blue Springs schools plan temporary online shift

By The Examiner staff

Middle school and high school students in the Blue Springs School District will shift to online learning after Thanksgiving break until Christmas break, a total of three weeks.

In announcing the move, the district cited the increased COVID-19 community spread in the area, rising case numbers among older students and struggles to fill teacher slots. About 75 percent of students across the district have been taking in-person classes this semester. Unlike other area school districts, Blue Springs has not used a hybrid model for older students, under which students alternate between in-school and at-home learning. The district plans to start in-person classes again in January.

Quarantines from exposure, along with personal and family illnesses have, not surprisingly, led to more staff absences, the district said in a message sent to families, though the number of unfilled substitute slots across the district has risen from 10-plus to 15 to 30 unfilled slots per day in the last several weeks.

“The unfilled jobs have started to become unmanageable district-wide, and as we enter cold and flu season, we know this challenge will worsen before it gets better,” the district said. “In the two weeks following Halloween, our district has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, and we believe that the trend will continue and possibly worsen following Thanksgiving break.”

The district said Friday that out of 204 COVID cases this school year, only 11 have been connected to possible school spread, but 10 of those are from the middle and high schools. Overall, 68 percent of cases have occurred in the middle and high schools, the district said, and 86 percent of such in-person students, or 1,180, have had to quarantine at some point this school year due to possible exposure. 

Less than 8 percent of cases in the district have been children age 10 and younger, according to the district.