(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) — After difficulty keeping classrooms staffed, the St. Joseph Board of Education has voted to shift from its current schedule to hybrid in-class and virtual learning during an emergency meeting on Monday.
The district plans to shift for students that have been receiving in-person instruction 5-days a week to a hybrid learning model starting Monday, Oct. 12. The changes will not affect Virtual Academy students. Their schedule remains unchanged.
The district plans to shift pre-K and elementary school to in-person learning four days per week starting Monday, Oct. 12. The group will go to school for in-person learning on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Middle and High school students will be divided into two groups, or Cohorts, alphabetically. Cohort A, students with last names starting with the letter A-K, will attend school in-person on Monday and Thursday. Cohort B, students with last names starting with the letter L-Z, will attend school in-person on Tuesday and Friday.
Hillyard students will attend classes in-person four days a week.
Wednesdays will be a virtual learning day for all students K-12.
The decision came amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in Buchanan County that began in August.
SJSD Superintendent, Doug Van Zyl, said Monday the district had 70-80 staff absent leaving 25 classrooms unfilled. He added that staff was absent for a variety of reasons but some were out because of COVID-19 quarantine guidelines.
“Today we didn’t have enough substitutes,” Van Zyl said. “Now that’s not highly unusual. A lot of school years we have challenges getting all of our subs but that number is a very high number and it’s been over the last few days and the last week in the 20s and that to us is just concerning because we don’t feel like that’s safe for our staff, our students.”
In-person classes will be held Tuesday, Oct. 6 but schools will be closed Oct. 7-9 so that the district can prepare and train for the new schedule. There will be no remote learning on those three days for “in-person” students. Hillyard students will also be off Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week.
This article will be updated as more information is made available.