School closures have slowed down since the November period, outside of a major spike in Michigan related to the shooting at Oxford High School which...
Week of 11/22: Closures Continue
While slightly below last week's increase we continued to see a bigger increase in school closings this week than we saw in September and October. Given the current issues around staffing we thought it would be a good time to break out some staffing categories from our growing ESSER III dataset.
- In the mental health driven disruption category on November 17th Detroit Public Schools preemptively shifted to virtual learning on Fridays in December "after listening and reflecting on the concerns of school-based leaders, teachers, support staff, students, and families regarding the need for mental health relief . . . " On November 19th the district further announced that it would be closed Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving for "cleaning and sanitization to ensure a strong return to in person learning on Monday, November 29th. "
- This note from District 86 in Hinsdale, IL describes wide-ranging pressures across students and staff in announcing the district's two day break around Thanksgiving. "We also understand and appreciate that more can and must be done to alleviate the stress and anxiety that everyone in education has been feeling during this challenging time."
- Ontario, OR school district approved "Asynchronous Fridays" - independent study - from November 19th through March 3rd after surveys showed "overwhelming support" from staff and families. "One of the main barriers that came up for parents was the need for childcare on the asynchronous Friday due to parent/guardian work schedules, lack of supervision at home, etc. .. ." notes the letter, which talks of a partnership with a local Boys & Girls Club.
- In this announcement of a virtual day on Friday, November 19th caused by last-second staffing shortages Tangipahoa Parish Public Schools notes, "The board and administration are committed to seeking a board policy adjustment regarding employee leave before major holidays or other corrective actions to keep this from happening again in the future."
- A more traditional closure due to Covid-19 is noted on the pop-up on Bloomfield, NM School District that says "Due to the positive number of COVID-19 cases and not enough staff to cover classrooms, we are taking preventative measures to keep our students and staff safe. This brief change to virtual learning is a preventative health step. We appreciate your understanding."
- The number of districts with mask mandates continues to gradually decline. Of the Top 500 districts, 167 are now mask optional, an increase from 160 last week and 107 from back on October 15th. In the Top 200 the number of districts that are mask optional rose from 71 to 75, up from 50 on October 1st.
- In this media report that features a letter from the state Department of education, Massachusetts denied a waiver for a Boston school to count some virtual learning days towards the 180 required days of learning, citing the importance of in-person learning and the schools failure to implement "deliberate and progressive .. . mitigation measures" such as classroom and grade closures before closing the entire school.
- This letter from Connecticut describes why the state has adopted "Screen and Stay," rather than "Test to Stay." "It is clear in most states piloting 'Test and Stay' initiatives that these programs are very labor intensive and can represent a significant resource drain on school districts," notes the letter.
- To that point, Cassville, MO school district discontinued test-to-stay "due to a state-wide shortage of testing supplies." This note from a district in Vermont solicits volunteers in order to properly staff test-to-stay.
- South Orange-Maplewood, NJ school district will require unvaccinated students who travel for Thanksgiving to quarantine when the district returns from break.
- Valley Charter School in CA will be testing all students on November 29th upon return from Thanksgiving break.