Home Career KIPP NYC Charter School is temporarily going virtual due to staff illness

KIPP NYC Charter School is temporarily going virtual due to staff illness

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A Manhattan charter school is temporarily transitioning to remote learning because 17 of its 54 employees called in sick Tuesday, school officials said.

Administrators at KIPP Washington Heights High School told families in an email Tuesday that school will be virtual Wednesday through Friday “due to staff shortages related to staff quarantine and positive COVID tests,” Principal Eric Kato wrote.

The school is already scheduled to be on Thanksgiving break for the entire next week, meaning in-person classes will resume on Nov. 29.

A KIPP spokesman said the Washington Heights school is the only one in the network that is temporarily working remotely due to health-related concerns.

“With the increasing number of COVID-19, RSV and influenza affecting many employees at this location, we have made the necessary decision to temporarily transition to remote work to ensure we can maintain safe staffing levels without disruption to training.” said the spokesman.

Catrice Bryson, the parent of a seventh-grader at the school, said she received several reports of teachers with COVID in quick succession last week and was not surprised the school had to temporarily close its building.

Bryson said she had “no problem” with the school’s decision. “I’m afraid, as an immunocompromised person, what this virus can do to me.”

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

The closing of the KIPP school comes as some children, parents and educators are grappling with rising respiratory illnesses, especially among children, across the city.

The number of cases of COVID-19 among students and staff at the city’s public and charter schools reported this month was up slightly from last month, according to the Department of Education calculated by the PRESS NYC groupalthough the number of reported cases is still lower than in September and significantly lower than during last year’s winter surge caused by the omicron variant.

A total of 2,925 cases were counted last week, compared with 884 in the same week last November, according to the PRESS NYC tabulation. During the peak of the Omicron outbreak last winter, nearly 70,000 cases were reported in one week in January.

But it’s not just COVID-19 that’s keeping kids and teachers out of classes across the city.

City health services recorded a increase in the incidence of influenzaand hospitals report more children filling children’s beds with breathable disease.

“This is the first winter since the beginning of the pandemic when you have to worry not only about COVID, but also about other respiratory viruses that cause similar illnesses,” said Jay Varma, director of the Cornell Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response and a former public health adviser. Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Respiratory viruses have affected all age groups, but especially children, Varma said. The most likely explanation for the surge is that measures to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 had the secondary effect of slowing the spread of influenza and RSV, keeping those viruses at bay for most of the pandemic, and ending the short-term immunity that occurs with exposure, he added . Now that these mitigation measures have largely weakened, respiratory diseases are returning with a vengeance.

This can cause major headaches for both the family and the school.

According to the numbers from This was reported by the Washington Post Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So far, city-wide student and staff attendance has generally remained unchanged.

Student attendance on Monday and Tuesday this week was around 88% – similar to the annual average – and a spokesman for the Department for Education said staff absences had remained stable since the start of the academic year.

Several principals told Chalkbeat they’ve seen an increase in student and staff absences in recent days, while others said they haven’t noticed much of a difference.

Thanksgiving break for the city’s public schools begins next Thursday.

Some city educators and parents are still cautiously approaching the winter months, remembering last year’s omicron surge. This surge of cases drove me crazy record student failure rates and worsened the work of the school.

Varma said it’s not yet clear what course the three colliding viruses will take in the coming weeks and months, but said masks and ventilation are still the most effective tools for schools to help prevent the spread.

“If you can make them [high-quality masks] Widely available, you can encourage people to use them without mandating them,” he said. “It’s an appropriate middle ground for me.”

Michael Elsen-Rooney is a Chalkbeat New York reporter covering New York City Public Schools. Contact Michael at melsen-rooney@chalkbeat.org.

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