The Columbia Public School Board voted Monday night to move all schools online until at least January.
The Board voted to have middle schools and high schools remain online until January 19. They’ll return to a four-day week when they come back.
It also voted to have elementary schools, which were previously in-person, will go online starting Nov. 16 until January 11. All motions passed 6-1.
Several community members came to speak to the board before the decision.
President of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association Kathy Steinhoff supported moving back to virtual learning for elementary instruction. She said that in-person learning was becoming unsustainable.
“We are struggling with the sanitation efforts. We’re going through masks at a pace that is a financial drain. People are getting sick,” said Steinhoff.
While she said there were some positives with in-person learning, the costs outweigh the benefits.
A major issue the schools are facing is retaining enough teachers and substitutes during this time. Superintendent Peter Stiepleman acknowledged the problem.
“We have over about 228 subs eligible to work. However, in a survey, we just completed with those 228, 86 said they were willing to sub,” said Stiepleman.
With many teachers becoming sick or stuck in quarantine, Stiepleman said it is difficult to keep classrooms open because of the shortages. Stiepleman also cited data that as of Nov. 7, there were 151 staff members in quarantine.
Some community members came forward who said online classes were not going well for their children. Others were glad to have their children learning virtually while being safe at home. The board listened to all of these concerns before coming to the ultimate decision of having all students to learn virtually.