Nov 24, 2020 11:48 AM

USD 313: Staffing issues key to keeping kids in school

Posted Nov 24, 2020 11:48 AM

By NICK GOSNELL

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Buhler USD 313 has continued to look at the data and as part of a larger conversation Monday night on the state of the district heading into Thanksgiving break.

On Facebook Live Monday night, USD 313 Superintendent Cindy Couchman noted that even though they've done a good job of stopping the spread at schools, they still have human resource issues at the district level.

"We have seven positive staff members active, these are active positives, nine quarantined and we have nine more caring for quarantined," Couchman said. "Maybe you're a teacher and your child was quarantined and now you have to stay home. Sometimes, we're teaching remotely and that happens, but that means 25 substitutes that we need."

The district is also down 32 classified staff and 18 special ed staff through either active infection, quarantine or caring for quarantine. Twenty-two percent of the district's employees are currently impacted.

"We want to educate kids, we need to keep our staff safe," Couchman said. "We know that kids could get it and they typically, we've seen the data, recover from it. It's our staff that keeps me up late at night and that I worry about, constantly."

At this point, because of the lesser impact the virus continues to have on children under 10 and the greater spread risk among older kids, USD 313 will continue to do hybrid for middle and high school and in person for elementary, unless staffing forces an elementary building to close, as it did with Buhler Grade earlier in the semester.

"We are hanging in there," Couchman said. "We just keep bending, bending, bending. If it gets to the point where we have to take a building to flex, we will do it by building and not by whole decisions."

Couchman issued a challenge to Buhler USD 313 patrons over Thanksgiving, though.

Students are out for Thanksgiving Wednesday through Friday and return to class on Monday, November 30.