OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – There are not enough teachers to teach. That’s the story for many Oklahoma school districts as they experience a wave in COVID-19 cases.
“Nobody’s getting time to prep lessons. Nobody’s getting time to breathe, to go to the copy room, or to eat an apple,” said Mid-Del Public Schools Superintendent, Rick Cobb.
Dr. Cobb told KFOR teachers were using their planning periods to help out with vacancies.
“So you might have an English teacher covering a chemistry class, and you know, and you can maybe assign work to students, but assigning work and teaching are not the same thing,” Dr. Cobb said.
After noticing students were not getting the education they needed, the superintendent realized it was time to shut down the school district from Jan. 13-18.
Mid-Del Public Schools had more than 250 positive cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We just reached the point where Tuesday, by mid-morning, we realized we can’t go all week like this,” said Cobb. “By the second week in January, it shouldn’t be like that. The second week in January, you should still be refreshed. And you know, that restorative break that we get for Christmas and New Year’s, there should still be some effect of that, and it wasn’t there.”
The same is true for Piedmont Public Schools.
“I think it just becomes a point to where you cannot put enough adult bodies, responsible adult bodies in front of kids to monitor them,” said Piedmont Public Schools Superintendent Dr. James White.
Dr. White told KFOR the district had 100 staff members call in sick this week but only 13 substitute teachers to cover.
“We did everything we could to stay in school in-person as long as possible last year, and we have done so this year up to this point,” said Dr. White. “And I think soon we will.”
Both superintendents said the virus is waging war, and they are determined to keep a safe and healthy environment where teachers and students can thrive both mentally and physically.
“Across the stage, you’ve seen some amazing, some amazing efforts made by it, by a number of educators to keep our kids in school as long as long as we have,” said Dr. White.
“Teachers feel guilt about missing work because they know there’s a chance that missing work is going to place a burden on their teammates in the building, and they don’t want to do that,” said Dr. Cobb. “But I don’t want teachers who are who have been sick coming back before they’re ready.”
Dr. Melinda Cail told KFOR she does not believe schools will remain closed for the rest of the year, like what happened in the spring of 2020. But she also said this might not be the last time districts will be forced to go virtual.