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Week of 1/10: Disruptions Update
We saw a continued rise in school disruptions as last week went on, driven by staff shortages. Several thousand schools that were virtual or closed for parts of last week have a stated intention to return to in-person learning this coming Monday, January 10th. We will be updating our School Opening Tracker Page daily this week, generally around 6:30 pm.
1. School closures by week reached their highest total of the academic year last week, as Covid 19 cases and staffing shortages drove the bulk of disruptions. Our New Year's Eve update found only 1,591 schools had announced closures or virtual instruction for the week of 1/3, but we ended last week having identified 5,409 due to announcements that continued through the week.
2. The following chart takes a more granular look at school disruptions by day. For the week of January 10th, the chart represents currently planned closures, and almost all the closures indicated on the chart for the week of January 10th are schools shifting to some sort of virtual learning. We are also not including Chicago in the figures (653 schools) for the week of January 10th at this current time as the labor situation in the city remains day-to-day. Chicago's schools were closed completely (not remote) from the middle of last week.
Note the large drop off between last Friday's figures and Monday, January 10th. Districts that are shifting from virtual back to in-person will generally reconfirm with parents the night before, (meaning today, Sunday) and we will be confirming the status of districts early this week and updating the School Opening Tracker page accordingly.
3. Disruptions continue to be concentrated in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest:
- Cleveland, OH, schools were virtual this past week and in this short video from last Thursday the Superintendent confirms their intention to return to in-person learning Monday, citing a decline in Covid 19 cases. "Likewise, with the shortened quarantine requirements approved by the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health . . . . we anticipate fewer employee absences required for quarantining," he adds.
- The new CDC guidance shortening quarantine regulations in school settings has begun appearing at both the state and local level across the US. Among the examples are Clark County, NV school district, Mesa, AZ school district, plus schools in Brewer, ME, and Southwest Licking, OH. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the recommendations as did the state of Rhode Island and the State of Connecticut. News reports out of Illinois indicate that the state will adopt the new regulations as well.
- On Saturday Baltimore County School District, a 178 school district in Maryland, announced two days of asynchronous virtual instruction to start the week. "School buildings will be closed on Monday, January 10 and Tuesday, January 11, to provide staff with the time needed to prepare instructional lessons in the event of a temporary transition to virtual learning for their specific school. Staff from the BCPS Division of Curriculum and Instruction have prepared independent learning activities for all students to engage in on Jan. 10 and 11," reads the announcement.
- In this letter from the State of Connecticut Department of Education issued ten days ago they note . . . "the June 2021 Public Act, under which remote learning is generally not permitted on a district-wide or school-wide . . basis." This letter from Ansonia, CT public schools describes 25% Covid-19 case rates among staff and the decision to close schools on January 7th and 10th, noting "remote learning is not an option currently so these days will be added to the end of our school year . . ."
- California has had very few school closures over the last few weeks. West Contra Costa, CA, school district, with 54 schools, did close recently, noting, "To relieve a little pressure and allow more time for those in our community who are sick to recover, we will have two "smoke days" next, Friday January 7 and Monday January 10 all schools in the district will be closed to students and staff both days."
- District 118, Danville, IL pivoted to virtual for three days this week. The previous day the district sent out this letter detailing staff and supply shortages that provides interesting insight into the logistical challenges for districts. Among the observations: "9 bus drivers called in sick this morning", "entire (food service) team at Northeast elementary out", "we were notified .. . we would not receive the December delivery from the USDA due to staffing shortages", and "testing has been difficult to procure."