Long County School System closed Friday due to staffing shortage caused by COVID-19

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 12:57 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:48 PM EST
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LONG COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The Long County School System will be closed Friday, Jan. 14 due to a critical staff shortage caused by COVID-19, according to a news release from the school system.

The district is set to reopen Tuesday after undergoing a deep clean. Superintendent David Edwards says the district made the decision after not having enough staff available for classes, and some parents say they’re concerned about the rest of the school year.

Students in Long County returned to full-time, in person instruction after the holiday break. One parent says since then, her whole family has tested positive for COVID. She says she wants the county to offer a virtual option.

“I don’t want to send my daughter back to school. If you see the numbers, the numbers are so high and they’re not going down at all, they’re just rising. I feel like it’s not safe to send her to school,” said Danielle Fontaine, a Long County parent.

Fontaine has removed one of her children from the district already.

“I had to pull her out because she’s immune compromised, so I can’t send her to school,” said Fontaine.

Superintendent David Edwards says the school district is missing about 25 percent of its staff due to COVID, leaving about 40 staff vacancies for the day, even when trying to fill in with substitutes.

“It’s just to a critical point where we’re missing staff from teachers to cafeteria staff to transportation,” said Edwards.

A critical point, that one parent doesn’t feel comfortable passing.

“If there’s no virtual option, I don’t feel comfortable sending my kid back to school,” said Fontaine.

However, Edwards says when students return to school on Tuesday, staffing is looking much better.

“We do project out when we’re notified of staff being out due to COVID, we project out our numbers. That will drop. For example today, our total sub pool is 104, again, we’re 40 short, where Tuesday is showing 15. We’re looking for a tremendous drop there and hope that it stays that way.”

Edwards says he’s hoping the four day break will allow those out with COVID to recover, and says he wants school operations to remain as normal as possible.

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