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Springfield Public Schools is among districts that canceled classes this week.
SBJ file
Springfield Public Schools is among districts that canceled classes this week.

Local school districts cancel classes due to COVID-19 surge

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A bevy of local school districts temporarily have called off or changed classes due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

Springfield Public Schools, the largest among them with some 25,000 students and around 4,000 employees, canceled Jan. 19-21 classes, according to an open letter sent to families yesterday. Officials are monitoring the situation with a plan to return Jan. 24.

"This trend has created staffing challenges and made it difficult for us to even recruit substitutes," SPS Superintendent Grenita Lathan said in a livestreamed news conference hosted by the city of Springfield this morning.

The letter to parents indicated SPS documented 863 cases of COVID-19 last week, impacting 661 students and 202 staff members, and Lathan said another 200 students and 100 staff tested positive yesterday after school was out Jan. 17 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Late last week, SPS warned of a staffing shortage and began requiring employees and visitors to again wear face masks when inside district facilities.

Virtual learning days could come if staffing levels don't pick up, Lathan said at the news conference.

It's a similar story at other area school districts.

The Ozark district, like SPS, is closing for the rest of the week, according to spokesperson Amelia Wigton.

In Willard, in-person classes are canceled this week, and alternative instruction methods will be deployed for at-home learning, according to correspondence sent to families.

Zac Rantz, spokesperson for the Nixa school district, said classes would be held as long as there is enough staff. The Bolivar, Branson, Rogersville and Strafford districts also have not canceled classes, according to Springfield Business Journal research.

In Republic, school officials called off classes today and asked teachers to prepare for alternate learning methods on Thursday and Friday.

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