East Aurora High, 2 middle schools on remote learning due to COVID-19 staffing issue

East Aurora High School and two middle schools are doing remote learning, due to staffing shortages caused by COVID-19.

East Aurora District 131 Superintendent Jennifer Norrell said she did not have enough substitute workers to make up for having about 60 employees, including teachers, in quarantine because they have tested positive for the disease.

District 131 students returned to school Friday after winter break.

The high school and Cowherd and Simmons middle schools will have remote learning through Jan. 14.

"I'm so grateful it did not work out to be my itty-bitties," Norrell said, referring to children in the district's elementary and preschools. The older students are much more capable of doing remote learning, and the teenagers can work from home without parental supervision, meaning those parents can go to work, she said. "I just didn't want to displace my youngest kids."

She said the district knew Thursday night another 54 workers would be absent Friday in the district's other 18 buildings. They were able to arrange 28 substitutes. For the rest, students were sent to other classrooms that could maintain the required social-distancing space, she said.

"This is a nightmare that a lot of my colleagues are dealing with," Norrell said.

She spoke to faculty about the situation Thursday, during a teacher institute day. Earlier, an unidentified person had sent an online survey to teachers asking if they were willing to walk out unless schools went to remote learning.

"I think everybody was just really anxious," Norrell said.

The president of the staff union - which represents teachers and support workers - could not be reached for comment Friday.

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