Republic School District going virtual for a short time as cases rise among schools

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 7:59 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2020 at 8:01 AM CST
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REPUBLIC, Mo. (KY3) - In a letter to parents, administrators with the Republic School District announced learning will go all virtual for the next few weeks as cases rise in the district.

The virtual model will start on Friday, November 20. It will last through December 2. District leaders hope to then return to a classroom learning model.

Since November 1, some 35 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those cases, 19 have tested positive in the last three days.

Superintendent Dr. Matt Pearce tells KY3 the district’s final straw came down to staffing.

“We were bringing over people from an elementary on the other side of our campuses to another elementary to help cover classes, we were trying to implement all of our student teachers and you just can’t sustain that when it’s every building,” Pearce said.

Pearce said almost 60 staff members are positive for the virus or quarantined right now, and more than 500 students are in quarantine. It’s the most people they’ve had quarantined so far this year.

”We’ve made it from Aug. 24 until tomorrow and we are proud of that, but at the same time that’s been a stretch of our resources,” Pearce said. “It’s been difficult on our staff and our teachers and we were just hitting the point where we didn’t know if we could keep going. “

All Republic School District students will be learning virtually starting Friday.

”We’re hoping that the 13 days can decrease the number of students that we have on quarantine, the number of positives and then we can come back on December 3rd and be ready to go,” Pearce said.

Pearce said the district did not want to have to make this call on such short notice. He plans to reevaluate the situation the first of Dec. with hopes of returning to in-person learning for the rest of the semester.

”Our hope is that we don’t yo-yo for our community and for our families, we don’t want to do that,” Pearce said. “We will look at making a decision on that Dec. 1 day about when we’re going to come back and if it needs to be something that is going to be more.”

Pearce said he believes seated learning is what is best for their students. He also said masking has been a great tool for them to prevent a lot of potential spread of the virus within their buildings.

The district explained the decision in the letter to parents Wednesday.

“Although we are very aware of the inconveniences this creates for our families, please know this decision was made with the best interest of our students and employees in mind. We feel this short implementation of phase 3 will allow for slowing the overall spread of COVID-19 in our community, our facilities to be deeply sanitized, those currently ill with COVID-19 to heal and for those on quarantine to serve the rest of their time and return to school. The virtual learning days following Thanksgiving break will also allow us to evaluate the potential impact holiday gatherings might have on our ability to return to phase 1.

Since this will be new to all of us, we are thankful in advance for your grace. However, we feel confident in the virtual instruction plan we have put into place. Virtual learning will look much different than it did in the spring and will be required for kindergarten through 12th grade students. For those who have experienced virtual learning during quarantine, phase 3 will be very similar. Please refer to the FAQs listed in the link below for additional details. Also, please be watching for communication from your student’s teacher(s) and/or school building with specific information about learning virtually November 20, 23, 24, 30 along with December 1 and 2.

Again, we feel that learning takes place best when our students are seated at school. Our hope is to return to phase 1 on Thursday, December 3. However, communication will be released on Tuesday, December 1 after we are able to determine the potential impact that the Thanksgiving holiday might have on our ability to return to phase 1. We appreciate your consideration of this as you make plans for the upcoming holidays.”

The district implemented the RepMO Return to Learn plan for the 2020-21 school year. You can read it HERE. The district also released answers to FAQ’s about this pause in seated learning. You can read those HERE.

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