Illnesses impacting classrooms

Because of a large number of teachers and staff reporting illness last week, the Harrisonville School District was forced to use an Alternative Methods of Instruction Day (AMI) and operate virtually on Friday. As a statewide shortage of teachers forces similar closures across the area, Superintendent Paul Mensching said the district is facing a dramatic increase in need.

“Our increased demand (for substitute teachers) has been associated with a dramatic increase in illness in our area,” Mensching said. “We assume it corresponds with a dramatic increase in COVID cases, but we don’t ask for diagnosis from our employees, so at this point that would be speculation.”

According to Mensching, the school board has been meeting more frequently and continues to approve most substitute applications given the shortages and their desire to remain to keep in-person classes operating.

“We always approve substitutes at every monthly meeting when new people sign up,” he said. “Recently, (the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) made it possible for people with less than 60 college hours to substitute if they participate in online training. This is to alleviate a statewide shortage of substitutes combined with an increased demand for substitutes”

While school resumed in-person Monday, he said he is unsure if this would be a recurring problem in the near future.