Staffing shortages brought on by COVID-19 forcing schools to close doors

Published: Nov. 13, 2020 at 5:27 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2020 at 10:14 AM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

Staffing shortages brought on by surging COVID-19 cases are forcing some schools in the Valley to close doors.

Moorhead announced Friday afternoon that students K-12 will move to full-time distance learning on Nov. 30.

“Last week we saw unfilled positions rise greater than 30 percent of all of our teacher absences, that’s pretty significant,” Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Rupak Gandhi says.

Fargo Public Schools are on a growing list in the Valley seriously considering taking students out of the classroom.

“No one building to this point has had to transition to distance learning completely,” Gandhi says."We’ve been really close, whether it’s with a couple of classrooms or buildings. If we continue to see staffing shortages at this level, that’s something we anticipate."

Moorhead and Crookston made the move to keep students home. Grand Forks Public Schools are also discussing the move. Just days before West Fargo planned to bring elementary students back full time, they’re stepping back.

“We went from 50 staff members being out Monday and Tuesday at the elementary level to 128 absences on Thursday,” West Fargo Assistant Superintendent Rachael Agre says.

Many fear the holidays will only make the problem worse.

“If you track that within that 14-day quarantine period from Halloween, we are making an inference that that is what happened,” Agre says. “Knowing Nov. 30 would follow Thanksgiving, we were very concerned we would be short-staffed and not able to serve our students.”

School leaders say they need a couple of things to keep the doors open. They need more subs and families to take precautions as most transmissions are coming from outside the school.

If the virus continues setting records for new cases, shutdowns will follow.

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