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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Staff shortages could force CdA Schools into remote learning, families told

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 13, 2022

Ramsey Elementary students in Coeur d’Alene board their school bus after the first day of school, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Ramsey Elementary students in Coeur d’Alene board their school bus after the first day of school, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Some buildings in Coeur d’Alene Schools will shift to remote learning if staff shortages worsen, Superintendent Shon Hocker told families in an email sent Thursday afternoon.

In a lengthy letter, Hocker told families that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a growing strain on staffing levels.

“We will continue to have in-person learning in our District to the extent staffing permits,” Hocker said.

“Should we reach the point we do not have enough employees and subs to keep a building open, we will switch to distance learning for that school, with students logging in from home. This may last a few days, a week or a little longer, until our staffing situation has recovered,” Hocker said.

The crisis deepened Thursday in schools throughout the region, especially in the largest districts.

Early in the day, Spokane Public Schools announced that it will close buildings two days later this month, with instruction to be made up later.

On Thursday afternoon, Mead School District reported a record-shattering 701 cases in the last 10 days, with 51 of the cases being staff members.

Cheney School District also reported record-high numbers, with 165 positive cases since Jan. 3. Of the 462 cases this school year, 36% have occurred in the last 10 days.

However, Coeur d’Alene appears to be in even tougher straits.

On Thursday, 104 of the district’s 600 teachers were out, with only 60 of those covered by qualified substitutes.

“Our subs also are affected by the high rate of illness in our community,” Hocker wrote.

Thursday also was the district’s fifth straight day with at least 80 teacher absences.

“Since we returned from winter break, we have seen our absence rates climb among both students and staff,” Hocker’s letter continued. “Reports of new COVID cases are as high as we’ve seen since the pandemic began.”

In the event of a building closure, Hocker said the district will give families “as much advance notice as possible before we switch to distance learning.”

Hocker also promised that elementary students will be sent home with Chromebooks and chargers.

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