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Hays Middle School temporarily moves to remote learning following staff shortages due to COVID-19 exposures

Coronavirus in Kansas

HAYS, Kan. (KSNW) – Many schools across the nation have been closely monitoring Coronavirus cases as students return to the classroom. 

The Hays School District says it was forced to cancel classes at the middle school Tuesday because more than a dozen staff members are currently in quarantine or isolation.

The shortage in teachers forced the district to transition their middle school to Zoom learning.

“We had lots of staff who were in isolation or in quarantine and we just felt that we were not going to be able to cover all the classes and do everything we needed to do,” said Ron Wilson, USD 489 Superintendent.

This comes after only a week and a half of school being in session.

All other activities and athletics were also cancelled due to the staffing issue and virus exposure.

The district says teachers took Tuesday to transition to online learning, which is expected to start up on Wednesday.

“We just want to do what’s right for our students and we’re committed to keeping them engaged and keeping them connected with what’s going on in the classroom,” said Wilson.

The Hays superintendent says all students already had devices to learn remotely and were prepared, but the transition was unexpected this early on.

“This is much quicker than I probably anticipated we’d be doing it. I think we all knew at some point this could be a possibility, but it definitely snuck up on us,” said Wilson, “In a sense, it’s allowed us to figure some things out that maybe we would’ve figured out later. So, looking from a positive standpoint, I think it’s going to help us move forward in a better direction.”

The superintendent says the goal is to get ahead of the spread before staffing becomes an even bigger problem.

The transition to online learning, along with the Labor Day holiday allowed students and staff a total of nine days away from the school to monitor potential symptoms of the virus.

The superintendent says the extra days have provided the opportunity to remain distant while not missing out on any education.

“Going remote for a short period of time, allows everyone to spread out and get some time to get healthy and allow people to get through some quarantine periods and isolation periods. Hopefully Monday, we’re ready to roll,” said Wilson, “I think we can minimize it and get to a point where these disruptions happen less frequently.”

As of now, there are no students that have tested positive for the virus, and classes are expected to return to on-site learning on Monday.

The school is following all local and state health guidelines including social distancing and mask-wearing and is currently working with the Ellis County Health Department to help provide information for contact tracing. 

For the school’s full press release, click here.

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