COVID-19 forces temporary shift to distance learning for schools

COVID-19 forces temporary shift to distance learning for schools
Dave Faries

A surge in coronavirus cases, including several that required hospital visits, caused Mexico School District #59 to temporarily suspend in school classes. The announcement was made through a letter sent to parents last week and takes effect Monday.

At the start of the week, the district’s COVID-19 dashboard listed one new case and 153 students and staff under quarantine. In the letter issued last week, Superintendent Dr. Tammy Lupardus noted that starting late last week the COVID-19 condition of “several” district employees led to hospital visits. The district moved from level orange to red, the highest risk level, and one that puts activities in line for possible cancellation.

The increased caseload around the county also caused a ripple effect that contributed to the decision to close the buildings. Schools send students and staff who have had close contact with a person who then tests positive are sent into quarantine. This leads to spotty attendance in the classroom. Schools also have to find substitutes for teachers who are absent due to quarantine or isolation.

The district had plans in place for the transition to distance learning. Called the Alternative Method of Instruction Plan, it involves electronic options – Google Classroom – or more traditional paper packets. The district allotted a 72-hour notice to students, family and staff before making the switch.

According to the notice, the district will resume in school instruction on Nov. 30, should the COVID-19 surge slacken.

“We recognize the amount of disruption the closing of a building or district has on parents and families,” Dr. Lupardus noted in the letter. “It is our hope this temporary closing will allow the time necessary for staff and students to recuperate and possibly slow the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community.”


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