UPDATE, 2:40 p.m. Jan. 12
The Webb City and Pittsburg, Kansas, school districts became the latest on Wednesday to announce a closure until at least next week.
In Webb City, the closure was necessary "due to the continued increase in student and staff illness" and will give the district time to "deep clean buildings and give everyone time to recover," school officials said on social media.
The situation was similar in Pittsburg, Superintendent Rich Proffitt said.
"Today we reached a critical juncture," he wrote in a message to parents that was posted to the district's website on Wednesday. "We have a high number of staff (teachers, paraprofessionals and classified staff members) who are positive or are in quarantine. At this rate, we will not have enough staff and substitutes to adequately staff our buildings to keep the schools in operation at the level of care that we need to provide."
Several school districts in Missouri and Oklahoma have announced changes to their class schedules in response to an increased number of absences, with several pivoting to virtual learning for the first time in months of the pandemic.
• The Joplin School District is noting growing absences but will remain open at this time, officials said on social media. The district had approximately 16% of its student population and 11% of its staff absent Tuesday for various reasons, including COVID-19 and flu.
In spite of the absences, the district has been able to readjust classes and remain open, Superintendent Melinda Moss said in an email. Because the number of cases is evolving, Moss said, that plan could change.
• Neosho has canceled classes from Wednesday until Friday and will return Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday is observed Monday.
The cancellations were necessary, with 123 teachers and other employees absent because of illness, according to a message on the district’s website. Not all of those are COVID-19 cases, however. According to the message, the district has not yet reached a 7% COVID-19 level that would call for shutting down a building under the terms of the district’s COVID-19 plan.
The days will be treated as weather cancellation days, so virtual and in-person classes will be canceled, as well as extracurricular activities. Buildings will be closed for cleaning and sanitizing.
A team of district employees is working with Bright Futures Neosho to assemble food bags for students in need.
• The Carthage School District is shifting to virtual classes starting Wednesday and running through Friday. The numbers of positive cases, as well as quarantined students and staff, required the shift, Superintendent Mark Baker said on the district’s Facebook page.
Activities and games may still occur, unless an increase in positive cases or quarantines is recorded.
• The Webb City School District has not yet shifted to virtual classes, but it is prepared to because of an increase in COVID-19 cases, according to a message on its Facebook page.
On Tuesday, 103 students and staff members tested positive for COVID-19, and 806 students and 50 staff members were absent because of illnesses that include COVID-19, according to the district. The district is monitoring numbers and prepared to shift to virtual instruction if necessary.
• COVID-19 case numbers among students and staff in the McDonald County School District are not at a point to cause the cancellation of classes, a district spokesman said.
“Of course, we are closely monitoring the situation and if classes were to be canceled, we may need to use AMI (virtual learning) days in the event of closure,” he said in an email. “We appreciate our dedicated staff and substitute teachers and all they are doing to keep students in classes during this challenging time.”
• Miami public schools shifted to virtual instruction from Wednesday to Friday, with a return Tuesday, according to a message on its Facebook page. Though the district did not specify how many of its absences were related to COVID-19, the number of staff members quarantined or isolated has affected the district’s ability to provide enough teachers for in-person instruction, according to the message.
• Grove public schools will shift to virtual instruction Wednesday, with a targeted return date of Tuesday. The shift is because of rising COVID-19 exposure in the community and schools, according to a message on the district’s Facebook page.
Athletic events are scheduled to be held as normal, with the exception of a JV boys basketball game scheduled for Tuesday. That game has been canceled.
• Jay public schools shifted to virtual instruction Tuesday. That will continue until Tuesday, Jan. 18.