School District 197

ISD 197 Extends Winter Break Due to Staff Challenges & COVID-19

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The ISD 197 school board voted unanimously during a special meeting on December 2 to approve extending winter break by two days. Winter break now starts on Monday, December 20 instead of Wednesday, December 22.

Food packages will be available for any families who request them to help with the lack of school meals. School Age Care will also be available for those two days, though capacity may be limited due to staff shortages.

An email from the district explained the rationale as three-fold: staff wellness, staff shortages, and COVID-19 transmission.

“We are grateful to all of our staff members as they continue to show up and serve our students, but we know staff are stretched thin, experiencing mental health issues, and some staff members are leaving their profession altogether,” the email reads.

A historic shortage in substitute teachers is also magnifying impacts, with staff being asked to forgo prep time and breaks to cover for colleagues. The district acknowledges this is unsustainable.

Finally, increased COVID-19 transmission is having an impact and a slightly longer break (four days, including the weekend) is that much more time to slow transmission rates and isolate cases without missing class. The district also encourages vaccines for anyone ages 5 and up.

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