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...
Week of 12/20: Heading into Break
We have seen an increase in disruptions beginning the week of December 20th as well as in early January due to rising Covid 19 rates in pockets of the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Northeast. We will be keeping a closures-by-week chart updated at the top of our School Opening Tracker page over the course of this coming week, in addition to our School Disruptions Map which contains all closures, in the event we see further announcements in the coming days. This report is for closures we have seen announced as of Saturday, December 18th.
1. The number of schools closing early for the holiday break or going virtual next week is nearing the total of late August, and we are also seeing districts start the new year virtual due to rising Covid 19 rates and logistical challenges. As noted above, we will be monitoring this week and posting updates on our School Opening Tracker page:
- Prince George's County, MD school district, one of the nation's largest with over 200 schools, will be virtual from December 20th through January 14th. "Educators, administrators and support staff must be able to deliver in-person instruction and other activities in conditions that prioritize their own health, as well as the wellbeing of the school community," reads the release.
- Hamtramck, MI public schools will be virtual for a week post-New Years. "Out of an abundance of caution, we're implementing a week of virtual learning upon the break's end," writes the Superintendent.
- Dover Middle School, PA shifted to virtual learning December 17th. " In consultation with a Pennsylvania Department of Health epidemiologist, due to a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases and subsequent quarantining, the Dover Area Middle School will be shifting to virtual learning," reads the note.
- In Mars Hill, ME the District reports ". . this week's pooled testing has resulted in five pools coming back positive. . . in addition to 4 other positive COVID cases. . . we will be transitioning to virtual instruction at the elementary school building beginning December 20th."
- A group of schools in the Cleveland, OH district closed late this week amidst reports of staff illnesses and rising Covid 19 cases.
- Estancia Municipal School District, NM closed early for break, December 15th. "We will be evaluating Covid positivity data during the holidays," writes the district.
- Oswego City School District, NY will be virtual from December 17th through the beginning of winter break. "I am writing to share that due to a high number of staffing shortages (transportation, instructional and non-instructional staff) and a rise in COVID-19 cases (60 cases since Sunday of this week) and quarantines (75 current quarantines with additional pending cases so far this week) across the district, we will unfortunately be transitioning to remote – virtual instruction . . . " begins the communication
- St Louis Park, MN extended winter break to December 20th and 21st. "For the mental and physical health and wellbeing of all, the School Board unanimously approved a calendar modification adding two days to winter break in order for everyone to re-energize," reads the note.
- The number of mask-optional districts in the Top 500 rose this week from 181 to 186, up from 107 on October 15th. The number of mask optional districts in the Top 200 rose from 84 to 85. In Pennsylvania the State Supreme Court struck down the Governor's mask mandate and we have made the state green for "local flexibility" on the Mask Policy Tracker.
- In examples from across the country of holiday period precautions, El Centro Elementary School District, CA is offering at-home Covid 19 kits to families for winter break as are San Rafael City Schools, CA. Fairport, NY school district is doing the same, as are East Lansing, MI schools. Dorchester, SC schools are offering Covid 19 testing across the entire winter break, as are Las Cruces, NM public schools. Chicago Public Schools announced plans to distribute 150,000 test kits in just over 300 schools right before break.
- In an ongoing dispute in Missouri between the attorney general and local districts, Columbia Public Schools, MO will no longer quarantine asymptomatic close contacts after legal threats from the state. Conversely, Lee's Summit school district has retained counsel and is among districts in the state defying the orders.
- Hartford, CT schools are introducing "Evening School," a credit recovery program for grades 11 & 12 featuring classes of 10-15 students and small group tutoring beginning in January. We had earlier reported on Hartford's Saturday program.
- Montgomery County, MD schools suspended non-athletic extracurricular activities through January 7th and Howard County, MD applied a variety of restrictions to athletic and other in-person extracurricular activities through January.
- Hampton School District SAU 90, NH offered a remote option to families for the period before and after the holiday break and 5% of students in grades K-8 will be participating.
- This note from Hickman Mills C-1 School District in Kansas City, MO reads "we would like to thank our community members who donated to the district, following the news that the district lost its main food vendor due to ongoing national supply chain issues. . . . ."