Olathe, KCK schools cancel class as hundreds of staffers call in sick with COVID-19

·2 min read
Tammy Ljungblad/tljungblad@kcstar.com

With hundreds of staff members out sick, school districts in Olathe and Kansas City, Kansas canceled classes for Tuesday and Wednesday amid a surge in infections of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

In a message Sunday, Superintendent Brent Yeager said Olathe Public Schools had reached “dire circumstances” with more than 800 employees out sick. On Friday, he said, the district saw “staffing numbers we have never experienced before.”

The employees out sick accounted for about 20% of all Olathe Public Schools staff. The district had more than 400 substitute teachers in its buildings Friday. Even then, there were more than 100 unfilled positions, Yeager wrote.

Additionally, Yeager said more than 1,500 students had the virus last week.

The Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools said it had 200 teaching positions unfilled Friday. The district said the decision to cancel school Tuesday and Wednesday was a “difficult one,” but hoped the closure would allow staff time to recover.

The closure included before and after school care. The district said activities and athletics scheduled at the high school level “may continue if the activity can be staffed.”

Major Johnson County school districts last week warned they might have to cancel school with hundreds of employees out with COVID-19. Some districts, including in De Soto, already had.

Olathe Public Schools said all schools and other buildings will be closed. Athletics will be canceled as well, Yeager wrote. The district hoped that would allow for teachers and students to return healthy on Thursday.

“As many of you know, this year the state allows up to 40 hours of remote learning,” Yeager wrote. “Unfortunately, at this time, with the volume of staff illnesses we are unable to conduct remote learning.”

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