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Sublette school district goes remote after numerous students and employees were quarantined for COVID-19

Coronavirus in Kansas

SUBLETTE, Kan. (KSNW) – Many Kansas schools have been forced to shut down classrooms and move to remote learning. This is true for the Sublette school district. Students were in the classroom one day and at home the next.

Nearly a week ago, the superintendent of Sublette Schools reported the school year was going fairly smooth.

There were a low number of COVID infections and no active cases had been traced back to the school. But in what seemed like an overnight change, COVID cases spiked, and now the district has had to move classes behind a screen.

“We are not shutting down school and we are not in quarantine,” said Rex Bruce, Superintendent of Sublette Schools. “We’re just trying to have school as usual, but it’s remote.”

USD 374 on Monday transitioned all students Pre-K through 12 to Google Classroom learning.

This comes after 12 students and one employee tested positive for the virus and another 56 people have now been quarantined.

“My number one goal is to keep students safe and our employees safe,” said Bruce. “There’s no doubt, it’s been probably the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with as a superintendent.”

Students are expected to log in to class and be present. If not, they will be counted absent. This is to ensure no students fall behind on their school work, combatting a concern for many after school was shut down in the spring.

“I wanted to make sure we differentiated from what we did last spring. Last time it was an abbreviated version,” said Bruce. “We’ve been telling our students this is going to be a full day of school, so be prepared for that.”

For teachers, the transition has been quick, but one they have been preparing for.

The Sublette school district provided remote learning training before the school year started, and many of their teachers have been implementing remote aspects into their classrooms to create a fluid transition in the chance in-person classes were to be shut down.

“From day one we’ve been even in class, using various online platforms so we can get kids trained so that when they go home there’s less hiccups,” said Ashley Winger, Sublette High School Science Teacher.

After the first day of remote learning, Sublette students are on pace.

“Our kids are doing really well with the change that has occurred. We’ve worked really hard to make sure they were comfortable and knew exactly what to expect. So far, I haven’t had a single kid miss today,” said Winger.

The district has been following CDC and KDHE safety precautions, but the superintendent stresses those guidelines have to be followed outside the school to stop the spread.

“One of the things that concerns me, and I don’t want to pass the buck, but my concern is we need to get our community behind this. We know there are functions and get-togethers all over that are having 50 to hundreds of people involved, and that’s not helping the spread,” said Bruce. “We’ve got to get our community involved, because the bottom line is, can we have school? And we can have school when those numbers go down, and if those numbers keep rising because of things that happen outside of school, I can’t help it.”

The school is providing grab and go lunches and is working with families that may not have internet access. They are also continuing as many school activities as possible, will still mitigating any spread of COVID-19.

They are hoping to return to in-person learning as soon as they can. 

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