COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Heading into the third day after winter break, widespread staffing absences are continuing to affect schools throughout central Ohio.
Seven Columbus City Schools will not hold in-person learning Wednesday, six of them due to staff shortages.
This marks an improvement from the last two days.
Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon said the district will be dealing with these issues for the foreseeable future.
“It’s no secret we’re having some staffing challenges since return,” she said.
As of now, seven Columbus City Schools will be remote learning Wednesday. On Tuesday, there were 13; on Monday, 10.
Dixon said she appreciates families’ flexibility.
“We want the students in front of their teachers as much as possible,” she said. “We definitely do not want our students in front of sick teachers or our sick teachers in front of students.”
The district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows case numbers in the school community are up: approximately 4.5 times higher in teachers over the last two reporting periods.
Columbus City Schools has more than 9,000 employees. According to Dixon, there have been about 1,000 staff members – teachers and other staff – out each of the last two days due to all kinds of absences, including COVID-19 and seasonal illness.
“It’s impacting the entire enterprise and it’s not in their control, it’s not in our control,” Dixon said.
She added there isn’t a specific threshold on the number of staff to determine if a school opens or not, with that decision made on a school-by-school basis.
The district currently requires masks for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status.
District leaders have another meeting with the health team Wednesday.
“If we continue those mitigation efforts as I described, as long as we have staff and students who can come into the classroom, I believe kids are safest in the classroom,” said Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts.
Most schools in the district have been learning in person through all this. Dixon said central office staff have been supporting open schools but adds that is not sustainable.