Online again?

Rising COVID-19 cases and staff shortages raise the question: Is virtual learning coming?

Thirty-one staff members were out on Jan. 18. On Jan. 19, 22 staff members were out. These staff members include teachers, administration and support staff. With this many people out at one time, administration is having a hard time trying to keep the school running smoothly.

“You start getting over ten or so out, it starts to get much harder,” Principal Brian Knight said. “We have been able to make it all work this year.”

Since there is a shortage of substitutes, administrators have had to find different ways to fill in for them. This includes sending substitutes to multiple classes, having student teachers lead classes and rotating teachers throughout classes every thirty minutes.

SHS is not the only school with this issue. Ben Davis has had to move multiple classes to the cafeteria because they didn’t have enough substitutes. On Jan. 18, SHS was very close to having to do this.

With rising COVID-19 cases, schools are always at the chance of going virtual. Warren Township, Pike Township and Beech Grove have all gone virtual this school year. However, if SHS was to go virtual it likely wouldn’t be due to COVID-19 rates within the school.

“We have been very fortunate to have low positivity rates in our schools as students and staff take the necessary precautions to remain healthy,” Superintendent Patrick Mapes wrote in an email with The Journal.

Like many other schools, SHS is also having trouble with transportation. Since there is currently a shortage of bus drivers, right now anyone who is licensed to drive a bus is running routes. Knight said if SHS was to switch to virtual learning, it would likely be due to this transportation issue.

The decision of going virtual differs by building, which means that if SHS was to switch to virtual learning, that does not necessarily mean that all other schools in Perry Township would as well.

“It is our primary focus to keep schools open. In person instruction is the best means of education for students in our district,” Mapes wrote. “Our parents, state and national education leaders have urged us to keep our schools open as we work through the Omicron variant.”