“Due to the increasing stress on operations” related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shakopee Public Schools is moving all K-12 students into distance learning from Tuesday, Jan. 18, through Friday, Jan. 28, the district announced Wednesday.
Students were expected to attend classes online daily and follow their class schedule by using the video platform Google Meet for each period, the district said.
In the news release, the district stated that around 19.3% of all students had been absent daily over the previous five days. The elementary schools saw a nearly 16% increase in student absences over a one-day span from Jan. 11 to Jan. 12.
In a follow-up statement provided to the Shakopee Valley News, Superintendent Mike Redmond said the district’s teachers and staff workers, along with Palmer Bus Service, have “given an incredible effort” to keep in-person learning going during the pandemic.
“We have some things in common with other businesses who had been hanging a sign stating ‘please be patient, we’re short staffed,’” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point in our school district where we have to hang a sign that says our operational capacity is in such a state that our best option for the next two weeks is to shift to distance learning for grades K-12.”
The district had 352 COVID-19 cases last week among staff and students and 295 cases in just the first three days this week. Prior to last week, the highest number of cases the district had in any one week during the pandemic was 102.
On Jan. 12, more than 20% of the students in three school buildings were absent.
Additionally, the news release said teachers, transportation, food service staff, paraprofessionals and other staff members and resources are facing challenges because positions cannot be filled. In the previous six days, the district’s teacher substitute fill rate had only reached 48%, leaving most open positions unfilled.
Pearson Early Learning Center, Tokata Learning Center and Shakopee Online will continue to run normally during the distance-learning break, the district said. All athletics, activities, after-school events and community education classes will operate normally unless decided otherwise by a coach or instructor.
There is no school for Pre-K-12 students Friday, Jan. 14, and Monday, Jan. 17. There is also no school for K-12 students Friday, Feb. 4.
More information can be found on the district website at www.shakopee.k12.mn.us.