Manhattan charter school goes temporarily remote because too many staffers out sick

Manhattan charter school goes temporarily remote because too many staffers out sick

A Manhattan charter school is temporarily switching to remote learning because 17 of its 54 staff members were out sick Tuesday, according to school officials.

Administrators at KIPP Washington Heights Middle School told families in an email Tuesday that the school would go virtual Wednesday through Friday “due to staff shortages associated with staff quarantining and testing positive for COVID,” principal Eric Cato wrote.

The school has a previously scheduled Thanksgiving break for all of next week, meaning in-person classes will resume Nov. 29.

A KIPP spokesperson said the Washington Heights school is the only one in the network to temporarily go remote over health-related staffing issues.

“With COVID-19, RSV and the flu on the rise and impacting numerous staff members at this location, we have made the necessary decision to temporarily go remote to ensure we can maintain a safe level of staffing, with no disruption to learning,” the spokesperson said.

Katrice Bryson, the parent of a seventh grader at the school, said she got several notices of teachers out with COVID in quick succession last week, and wasn’t surprised the school had to temporarily close its building.

Bryson said she had “no problems” with the school’s decision. “I am afraid as an immune-compromised person what that virus can do to me alone.”

Still, even a temporary return to remote learning felt like “deja vu all over again” more than two-and-a-half years into the pandemic, she said.

The KIPP school closure comes as some kids, parents, and educators are grappling with a citywide rise in respiratory illness, especially among children.

The number of student and staff COVID-19 cases reported in city public and charter schools so far this month is up slightly over last month, according to education department data tallied by the group PRESS NYC, though reported cases are still lower than in September, and far lower than during last year’s winter surge driven by the omicron variant.

Last week, a total of 2,925 cases were tallied, compared to 884 during the same week last November, according to the PRESS NYC tabulation. During the peak of last winter’s omicron surge, nearly 70,000 cases were tallied during one week in January.

But it’s not only COVID-19 keeping kids and teachers out of class across the city.

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