SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Staff shortages and excessive student absences led numerous school districts to either cancel classes or go to virtual learning for the rest of the week. Springfield Public Schools is one of the districts to completely close Wednesday through Friday.

“It became very clear to us that we need to give our staff time to recoup and get well,” SPS Chief Communications Officer, Stephen Hall, said. “There are too many staff members that are sick right now for us to continue normal operations, or to transition to virtual learning in the short-term.”

Hall went on to explain, “What we saw over the last seven days, more than 860 cases of COVID-19. That breaks down, over 660 cases among students and 200 cases among staff,” saying that’s by far the highest total of COVID-19 positive cases the district has seen since the start of the pandemic.

Willard School District officials said they took Tuesday to prepare, sending students home with the technology they need to do their school work.

“All K-12 students have a device of some sort, so we made sure every student went home tonight with a device,” said Assistant Superintendent of Academics, Shane Dublin. “Also, we have hotspots available.”

“As of today, we had 86 students positive and 41 staff COVID positive,” Dublin said. “It looks like nearly 200 isolated for COVID, or related reasons, and again, with about mid 80’s percentage of attendance, you’re looking at probably 7 or 800 students out for various reasons.”

SPS parent of four and district staff member, Joshua Henry, said he agrees with the district’s decision to close. “I think it was the best decision to kind of keep everybody as separate as possible until we can get our understanding on what we’re really dealing with,” Henry said.