The SPS Shutdown

Springfield Public Schools has yet again shut down all facilities because of COVID-19.


   With the increase of the Omicron variant throughout the country, it was only a matter of time before it affected the Ozarks. 

   On Tuesday, January 18th, SPS (Springfield Public Schools) announced schools will be temporarily closed to what was hoped to be through Monday, January 24th. On Friday, January 21, district officials informed all families and staff that schools will continue to be closed through the following week. Students will not be attending school on Monday, the 24th but teachers are required to be present. The 24th will be a teacher training day for virtual learning.

   Students’ AMI or alternative means of instruction will be virtual learning starting Tuesday, January 25th through the 28th. As of press time, the district is hoping to reopen buildings to students on Monday, January 31st. 

   COVID-19 has been around for over two years now, so what’s changed? Well, the answer is a combination of the new COVID-19 variant and lack of substitute teachers.

   First, COVID-19’s most recently discovered variant, Omicron, has created many problems resulting in modifications of the SPS district’s educational schedule. With this new variant surging throughout education facilities the outcome has been intense. In a newsletter sent out to SPS staff members, the district has seen a drastic increase in absences. 

   “Over the last week alone, SPS has documented 863 cases of COVID-18, impacting 661 students and 202 staff, this has led to challenges in recruiting available substitutes,” the SPS newsletter read. 

   On Tuesday, January 18th, the SPS School Board met to discuss multiple concerns, one of those being COVID-19.  Dr. Lathan, the SPS district’s superintendent, expressed concern. Lathan explained that on Friday alone, 20 percent of the SPS workforce and 19 percent of the student body were all absent. 19 percent may not sound like a significant number, but it actually is estimated to be around 4800 students in a single day who are absent. Lathan also mentioned that on the same day, there were 131 unfilled substitutes requests. 

  While students are not participating in seated classes, schools will be receiving a thorough cleaning.

   “We are constantly looking at numbers, reviewing information… there is a process,” Lathan stated. 

   There is a leadership team of 80 people that Lathan and her team meet with to discuss whether or not online schooling is the best option in these constantly changing times. 

   “That’s the last resort for me, but we don’t have a choice at this point,” Lathan said.

   Though changes of the student body’s schedule are quite frequent as of right now, it’s important to keep in mind that this will pass. 

   Students are expected to attend daily ZOOM meetings following the same bell schedule as in-person learning. Though it is not yet clear as to when seated classes will resume, virtual learning is only temporary. It is also an attempt to keep students and staff as safe as possible. .

 “I think virtual learning isn’t good. You can’t learn when there are distractions around you at home. It doesn’t feel the same when learning and I honestly feel like I don’t learn anything,” freshman Adam Kral said. 

   “I don’t hate it or love it. I like being in school, but I also like being home because I can get all my work done in half the time,” junior Lauren Copelin said,

   Though there are mixed opinions regarding virtual learning, it’s the best option for the safety of all people.