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AHS suffers staff shortage during omicron wave

Back to school, 123rf.com

During the week of Jan. 10, Ashland High School was missing up to 23 staff members, according to Ashland Public Schools Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove.

“Some of those staff tested positive for COVID, some were exposed and in quarantine and others had COVID-like symptoms but were not confirmed,” Bogdanove said in a message to families dated Jan. 14. “Two staff have been able to return, and the number of absent staff appears to be holding steady the last two days.”

All district schools other than AHS are open for in-person instruction, with some absent staff at each site due to confirmed or suspected COVID-related reasons. Education assistants and staff from the high school were temporarily reassigned to positions at elementary schools to provide supervision and support, Bogdanove said. Considering a five-day quarantine period, he estimated AHS will reopen for in-person instruction Jan. 31.

“COVID has impacted staff in other key departments including food service and transportation,” he said. “With creativity and the dedication of the staff, we remain operational in those areas.”

Based on student and family feedback regarding the suspension of extracurriculars and athletics, he said, activities are slated to resume on a limited basis with new precautions.

Parents and guardians were advised to ensure students are up to date on vaccinations and boosters, observe physical distancing, minimize exposure by limiting social gatherings outside the household, wear masks, sanitize, and sign students up for weekly asymptomatic testing.

Further information can be found at ashland.k12.or.us/page/coronavirus-covid-19-response.

Under the limited extracurricular and athletics reopening guidelines during the omicron surge, spectators will not be allowed at indoor events through the end of the month, all staff and student participants must wear a face mask at all times (except during competition, for students), locker room access is limited, overnight travel for competitions or performances is prohibited, and concession stands will not open.

Coaches must sign an agreement affirming that participants will adhere to the precautions, according to the guidelines, prior to families receiving notice that an activity has been approved. Further case spikes may re-suspend highest-risk activities.

“Extracurricular activities and athletics participation may increase the risk of Omicron transmission,” the message said. “Parents and guardians should consider their child’s risk, the potential impact of the illness and potential loss of instruction when deciding to participate in an extracurricular or athletic program.”