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Springfield Public Schools closes through the week because of spike in COVID-19

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 2:19 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2022 at 2:20 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Because of absences from COVID-19, Springfield Public Schools announced it is closing school through the week. The district announced it will not go virtual during this time.

Over the last week alone, SPS has documented 863 cases of COVID-19, impacting 661 students and 202 staff. In addition, this has led to challenges in recruiting available substitutes.

“It sucks for sure,” said Katelyn Ashcraft.

Her son is in kindergarten. She says for him, wearing a mask is tricky but was getting the job done while he was in class.

“They should have kept the masks going and maybe that would have helped,” she said.

“We simply cannot continue to provide appropriate staffing in the school environment with the surge in the cases that we’re seeing. We have so many absences right now, so many staff and students who are sick,” said Stephen Hall, with Springfield Public Schools.

He says the district was always hopeful that they’d be able to limit COVID-19 restrictions doing away with the mask mandate after winter break. But, he says, circumstances have changed.

“We always said that we would be very watchful of the data to make sure that we were being responsive to the impact of COVID-19 in our local community. What we are seeing right now is really unprecedented within the 18 months of this pandemic,” he said.

If the case count continues to rise more changes could be coming.

“We have to remain flexible and adaptable. There may be a need next week to extend the closure. They’re may also be a need for us to transition to virtual learning,” said Hall.

The district is working to maintain safety.

“All of our buildings will receive a deep cleaning. We will continue to test symptomatic SPS staff members. There is a limited inventory so for the foreseeable future we are going to restrict and limit that testing,” he explained.

Parents like Ashcraft remain hopeful.

“I think they’ll try to definitely open back up on Monday to get the schools continuing but if they’ve got that many people out I don’t really think that they should,” she said.

Springfield Public Schools released this statement to KY3 News:

At this time, the best option to address staffing shortages and help limit the further spread of COVID-19 is to temporarily close our schools and district offices beginning Wednesday, January 19. The district says it hopes by Monday, Jan. 24 to return to normal operations.

Please note the following:

  • While district facilities are closed this week, all SPS sites will undergo a thorough cleaning.
  • The district’s centralized testing location will remain open, but COVID-19 testing will be limited to symptomatic SPS staff until further notice. This will allow SPS to accommodate the demand for appointments with the available inventory of test kits. For other testing opportunities, visit this website.
  • Grab-and-go meals will be available for students throughout the temporary closure and sign-up is required. Five days of meals will be available for pick-up on Wednesday, Jan. 19, from 4 to 5 p.m. at select sites. To sign up for meals and learn more about pick-up, use this form. Note: If you are currently enrolled in virtual learning and already receive grab-and-go meals, additional sign-up is not required.
  • If the current staffing shortages are not improved by Monday, the district will provide an update, which may include an extension of the temporary closure or a transition to virtual learning.

We understand that this change creates a disruption for families and have taken every measure available to avoid this step; however, we are currently unable to continue providing appropriate staffing in our schools. In consultation with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, we determined that this was the best approach for protecting the health and well-being of all those we serve.

SPS encourages you to practice social distancing by limiting public interactions, wearing a mask while in public settings, monitoring symptoms daily, scheduling a test if you’re symptomatic, and if you have not already done so, getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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