Dear Upper Arlington families,
I’m coming to you with a midweek update on the current COVID-19 situation in our district. You can watch my video or keep reading below.
You may have heard news stories about other central Ohio school districts having to cancel busing, close down or move to remote learning due to staffing shortages.
I wanted to let you know that this is a very real concern for many school districts right now - including ours. We have mentioned that this could be a possibility since we first shared our Responsible Restart Plan this summer, and unfortunately we are moving much closer to this possibility.
While our number of active COVID-19 cases among staff members is hovering around 10 so far for this week, there are dozens and dozens more who are out because they are awaiting test results, in quarantine due to exposure or dealing with non-COVID-related health issues.
Adding to the staffing concerns is a shortage of available substitutes in all areas of the district - most notably teachers and bus drivers. For example, today about 45 percent of our substitute teacher needs went unfilled. Last year around this time, our unfilled rates averaged closer to 12 percent.
We are making it work, but I want to be upfront that it’s a tenuous situation. There is a possibility that at some point we simply won’t be able to make staffing work. And in that case we would have to move all or part of our district to distance learning for a period of time, and this could happen on short notice.
I don’t say this to scare anyone, but I think it’s only fair that you know what we know.
As we enter winter each year, families make plans for what they will do in case of a snow day. I encourage you to start making plans now for what might happen if we have to make a quick change to distance learning for a short period of time.
I understand this is yet another stress in an already stressful time, and our entire staff appreciates everything you are doing to support your children. I will keep you posted as we continue to work through the pandemic together.
This will likely be my final video message before Thanksgiving, but you should expect an email update later this week. Have a happy Thanksgiving. Please take care, and as always go Bears!
Paul Imhoff, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Upper Arlington Schools