Grain Valley Schools announced the closure of the Early Childhood Center on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and narrowly avoided a potential district-wide closure after substitute fill rates dropped to unsustainable levels.
"We are committed to keeping our schools open and learning in person, but our substitute fill rates have been dropping steadily since the holidays," Dr. Brad Welle, Deputy Superintendent, Student and Community Services said.
The district also announced in an email to parents and district patrons on January 10th that they had suspended testing of students for COVID-19 until further notice due to a lack of available tests. Welle said the State of Missouri indicated additional tests should be available soon.
Grain Valley Schools finds itself in a similar position to districts throughout the region, with multiple staff vacancies remaining unfilled and a desperate shortage of substitute teachers.
"We have several full-time positions available and are also in desperate need of substitute teachers. Anyone wishing to join our team can start the application process from our website," Welle said.
"We had 101 of our 675 employees, including teachers, paras, drivers, and cooks, out on Tuesday with a substitute fill rate of 42%, so most absences were not filled. Colleagues are pitching in to help wherever they can. Administrators and other personnel are covering too."
"We hope to avoid further closures but will give families as much notice as possible if closures are needed. When considering our options, we look specifically at where the absences are occurring and will make closure decisions accordingly, so there is not a specific fill rate that would trigger a closure."
The scheduled professional development day for teachers on Friday, January 14th has been designated as virtual only. There is no school for students on Friday, January 14th due to the full-day in service for teachers, and no school on Monday, January 17th due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.