Polk School District

Polk School District students will not attend in-person classes this week due to staffing shortages caused by a recent surge of COVID-19 cases among employees.

The school district announced on its website and Facebook page Monday afternoon that students will temporarily transition to virtual learning starting Tuesday, Jan. 11, and will return to in-person instruction next Tuesday, Jan. 18.

“Polk School District continues to work daily to protect the health and well-being of our staff and students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to a recent surge in positive cases, we currently have a high rate of faculty/staff unable to work due to COVID-related causes,” the announcement said.

Polk School District is currently on a four-day week calendar and does not have classes on Mondays. Next Monday is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday.

Students will need to go to their respective schools Tuesday between noon and 6 p.m. to receive a Chromebook or packet, and meals for Tuesday through Friday.

Pre-K and kindergarten students will be given packets while first-grade through high school students will be given a Chromebook if they do not already have a way to be able to check their teachers’ websites for daily assignments on their respective school’s webpage.

“Without sufficiently staffed buildings we cannot maintain a safe and secure learning environment for our students,” the announcement said. “Please contact your student's school with specific questions. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but the health and safety of our students and staff remains our primary focus.”

All extracurricular activities, including athletics, are still planned to go on as scheduled, according to Assistant Superintendent Greg Teems.

“At this time, extracurricular activities are not affected,” Teems said Monday afternoon. “We just have a number of staff who are out and allocating substitute teachers has been difficult.”

Monday’s announcement referred to a high number of faculty and staff who are unable to work because of COVID-related causes.

While the school district’s report of cases among students and staff showed relatively few cases as of Friday, the overall number of cases in Polk County have been higher in the last two weeks than nearly any other time during the pandemic.

The Department of Public Health’s daily COVID-19 status report on Monday reported a a seven-day moving average of 76.7 cases for Polk County, up from five cases on Dec. 10.

The county also saw it’s biggest one-day total of positive reported cases on Saturday, Jan. 8, when the DPH reports 146 new cases. There have been 1,026 cases of COVID-19 reported in Polk County in the last two weeks.

Rome hospitals have also reported an uptick in the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 with a combined 128 at Atrium Health Floyd and AdventHealth Redmond reported on Monday, up from 75 on Jan. 3.

So far there has not been an increase in the number of Polk County deaths from this recent COVID-19 surge. The last confirmed COVID-19 death of a Polk County resident was reported on Nov. 29, 2021.

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