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Springfield and Nixa Public Schools report an increase in COVID-19 related absences

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 9:10 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Officials for Springfield Public Schools and Nixa Public Schools are reporting a higher number of COVID-19 related absences compared to last year.

Nixa has had a 25% increase in the number of absences since last year, while Springfield has had a 37% increase. In both districts, most of those cases are among elementary-aged students.

“We are seeing more cases than last year,” said Springfield Public Schools Director of Health Services Jean Grabeel. “Right now, because of the variant that’s prevalent within our community, we’re seeing more and more students in the elementary age that are positive than we did last year at this time.”

“Last year, at this time, we had about 58-59 cases in the first couple of weeks of school, and that includes students and staff. This year, we’ve had 154 cases,” said Grabeel.

This is not a perfect comparison. Last year, Springfield students were only seated two days a week. This year, classrooms are open five days a week.

Last year, Nixa required all students and staff to wear a mask. Right now, it is optional.

However, both school districts believe that even though there is an increase in cases compared to last year, being in seated classes is the best way to receive an education.

“We know the most important thing for us to do is to provide education for our students,” said Grabeel. “We know the most effective way to provide that education is in class fully seated. That’s always been our goal, to be able to provide that for our students. We feel like that we’re doing that in the safest manner possible.”

Both school districts are making efforts to slow the spread of the virus with cleaning and sanitizing practices.

“We still have a pandemic that’s occurring and we want to be as cautious as possible,” said Grabeel. “But we also want to get back to our norm. And unfortunately, that new norm is different than what has been in the past. We just want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to safely provide education for students on a daily basis every day, five days a week.”

Nixa and Springfield school district officials say they are doing everything they can to keep students in seated courses five days a week.

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