With 37 staff members quarantined, Farmington Public Schools officials voted Tuesday to keep K-5 students in remote learning through January 11, 2021.
The move comes after officials last week delayed a planned November 9 return date based on recommendations from Oakland County Health officials. At that time, the local risk had risen from Level C (medium-high) to Level E (highest) over a two-week period.
Herrera said school administrators are not worried about district-wide mitigation strategies and safety measures. The problem, he said, has to do with the impact of high transmission levels on staffing and operations.
Potential issues include closing classrooms because of substitute teacher shortages, or not being able to bus students if more than seven or eight drivers are quarantined.
“We’re more worried about the operational effects of the pandemic right now than our ability to provide in-person programming,” he said. While 37 teachers is not a large number in light of overall district staffing, “we’re not even in-person yet.”
Herrera also noted that more than 130 elementary parents have changed their minds about whether it’s safe for their students to return to in-person learning. Officials are also concerned that frequent school closures and changes due to the virus spread would cause “significant disruption” for families.
Trustees will likely review COVID numbers and their impact on in-person learning in December. Students in grades 6-12 still have a January 25, 2021 return to in-person learning date. There is no plan yet for students in early childhood and special education programs, who had been learning in person until last week.
Watch the discussion, which starts at around the 1-minute mark: