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West Branch going all remote beginning Monday

BELOIT — West Branch will be moving to remote learning for all students due to a shortage of staff.

The school board Thursday night agreed to remote learning for all students Monday, Nov. 23 through Monday, Dec. 7, which includes six instructional days.

Acting Superintendent Micki Egli made the recommendation based on a lack of substitutes, not because of student spread of the coronavirus. She noted there are no substitute bus drivers or cooks and substitutes are calling off, leaving administrators attempting to fill in and resulting in some positions being left empty for a day.

Egli said the time in remote learning will allow quarantined staff to return at full capacity and leave time following Thanksgiving for symptoms to present themselves in students and staff members.

Egli said the issue will be monitored and reviewed during the remote learning time period and the plan adjusted as needed.

In response to concerns from board members, Egli said staff members will still report to work, food will still be available and sports will continue as long as there are no positive cases. Chromebooks are available for students in grades 2 through 12 and paper items will be provided for students in the early learning center.

Boardmember Bryan Hobbins questioned whether Nov. 23 leaves enough time for teachers to prepare students for remote learning. He said parents not only have to worry about their child’s education, but finding daycare as well, so one day is very short notice. He asked is the students could be in class for Monday and Tuesday, then take an extra week after Thanksgiving.

Egli responded that the staff has been aware since the start of the school year that remote learning could take effect on a moment’s notice and has been preparing for such. She also reminded the board that the remote learning is needed because a lack of staff, not the spread of the virus.

“I don’t want to go remote, but we can’t maintain operations with the amount of staff that is out,” she said. “It is a very difficult decision that I have not taken lightly.”

In an update of the virus in the district, Egli reported there have been 14 cumulative cases with three active– one student and two staff members– and 122 students have been quarantined at some point. No case has been through student spread.

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