South Central Elementary crippled by 6 staff being positive for COVID- 19, 8 have been quarantined.

By WJBD Staff Sep 16, 2021 | 8:35 AM

The South Central School Board was told Wednesday night of the extraordinary steps being taken to keep South Central Elementary staffed with 6 teachers/staff currently out due to being positive for COVID-19.

Superintendent Kerry Herdes says the situation is made worse by lack of substitute teachers.

“There’s just not a lot of subs to be found.  I feel like we are pulling together as a team at the grade school as much as we possibly can and finding as many subs as we can.  But we are pulling staff who are aides, teachers aides, and anyone we have that can cover what we need due to illness.  We are treading water, and doing what we can but I don’t know how long we can sustain that beyond 8 people gone out of our building.”

Herdes says several longtime employees are seriously ill with COVID and he’s wishing them a speedy recovery.

Herdes doesn’t feel raising substitute pay would help with the current circumstances.  In addition to the eight teachers/staff at Kinmundy Elementary, 16 students are currently positive spread between the three buildings. Herdes says that number has come down from 25 last week. There are also 72 students on quarantine who are on remote learning.

Herdes says requiring the masks has seemed to help lower the quarantine number but they are still frustrated by the health departments taking a few days to quarantine close contacts allowing them to stay in school when they could be positive. However, he’s not blaming the health departments because like the school they are overwhelmed with COVID-19.

Herdes warned they could have problems in the future with bus drivers since their sub-list has dried up. He reports they may have to double up routes or ask some parents to bring their students to school.

Herdes says he was ready to implement another mandate that all staff is vaccinated or tested weekly but has now decided to place that on hold.

“Really take a wait and see approach.  We had plans in the works to accomplish that but I feel uncomfortable doing anything at this point before we get ISBE guidance.  I think they are going to have to go back and look at procedural things and requirements and give us a guideline before I’m going to move forward with any of that at this point.”

Herdes says they have found a way to offer the required weekly testing in-house. In another action, the board approved a $7.6-million budget for the current school year. Herdes says it is projected to finish $100,000 in the black.

In personnel news, the board accepted the resignation of High School Industrial Arts Teacher Curtis Thompson and bus driver Tammy Sigrist. The board also accepted resignations from bus aides Tyler Hartlipp and Megan Glaspell and lunchroom supervisors John Stephenson and Levi Bridges.

The board hired Cassandra Leuking as a special education teacher at the elementary building and Bre Swartzlander as lunchroom supervisor.