Students In Grades 6-12 Go Virtual

Students In Grades 6-12 Go Virtual
Posted on 11/13/2020
Students In Grades 6-12 Go Virtual

Dear BSSD Families,

COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. Since the shutdown in March, our Blue Springs School District community has taken on numerous challenges together. These last eight months haven’t been easy for any of us, and we are grateful for your support and partnership.

The demands of operating a school district of nearly 15,000 students and over 2,000 staff have increased. Due to mandatory quarantines from exposure at school or in the community, coupled with personal and family illnesses, we have seen a predictable increase in staff absences. During a typical school year, we struggle to fill all the available substitute teaching jobs in our district on a daily basis. COVID-19 has compounded this problem. This year, it is not uncommon to have 10+ unfilled substitute teaching jobs district-wide daily. In the last several weeks, that number has increased to 15-30 unfilled jobs per day. These unfilled teaching jobs put a significant strain on the school by shifting principals and counselors to the classroom or piecing together each hour with teachers on their plan time. 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.

Our district’s COVID-19 data has stayed relatively consistent with national data. To date, we have not seen any significant school spread. Out of 204 cases, we have presumably connected 11 cases of possible school spread. Ten of those positive cases are from our middle and high schools. Currently, 68% of all COVID-19 cases have occurred in our middle and high schools. The data shows that 86% or 1,180 students in grades 6-12 have been required to quarantine due to possible direct exposure at school. We have not identified any student spread in our elementary schools, and less than 8% of our total cases have been children under the age of 10.

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.

Because of these reasons and with unanimous support from the Board of Education, we plan to pivot our middle and high school in-person students to BSSD distance learning between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The 15 instructional days from November 30-December 18 will occur at home for all students in grades 6-12. Middle and high school teachers will report to school daily while they continue to instruct virtually.

There are two ways students and parents can obtain technology help while at home during distance learning after Thanksgiving Break. First, the district website contains information on how to troubleshoot issues that might arise while using technology at home. Students and parents may also call the help desk phone line at 874-3242 from 7:20 am – 3:00 pm Monday – Friday.

A limited number of special education programs for students in grades 6-12 will be offered in-person during this time. More information will be sent to the applicable families in the coming days. Students in grades Pre-K through 5, Prime Time, and Cub Care will continue in-person as scheduled.

We know this decision may come with many emotions, those of which we share with you. And there is nothing more that our staff and district want than to have all our students learning and growing in-person. However, we all know that the health and safety of our students and staff, along with the quality of available instruction, is critical in operating our schools.

Our plans continue to remain unchanged for the second semester. All students will return to school on January 6 either in-person or as BSSD distance learners as previously scheduled. As always, thank you for your flexibility and understanding during these difficult circumstances.

Sincerely,
Blue Springs School District