Edinburgh middle, high school go virtual due to staffing shortages

EDINBURGH — Students at Edinburgh Middle School and Edinburgh Community High School will shift to virtual learning today due to staffing shortages that have plagued schools locally and nationally.

Parents learned of the change Tuesday morning via text message.

The COVID-19 surge has greatly impacted the cafeteria staff and custodial department, Superintendent Ron Ross said in an email.

“These two departments have had to operate at 50% or less of their full capacity due to staff members being absent due to COVID-19,” Ross said. “We have been able to remain in session through Tuesday due to our hardworking, dedicated staff. Everyone has pitched in and gone above and beyond to serve our students. Unfortunately, cases are continuing to climb and we are running out of healthy people to fill in. This is why we made the difficult decision to transition to virtual learning at the middle/high school building.”

By focusing staff efforts on one building, East Side Elementary School will be able to remain open for now. The goal is for the school district to return to in-person learning by Jan. 31, but that decision will be based on if there is any progress made in the staffing predicament, Ross said.

Students are expected to sign into Google Classroom and attend class virtually. C4 Columbus Area Career Connection classes will continue in person and the school district will provide bus transportation to and from the center, Ross said in the email.

“We gave this decision a lot of thought and consideration. We know that virtual learning is not best for the majority of students, but particularly for our elementary-aged students,” Ross said in the email. “We also know the struggles that virtual learning can create for families with young children. As a result, keeping East Side Elementary School open as usual allows us to provide the best learning option while addressing our staffing shortages.”

A recent surge in COVID-19 cases caused Franklin schools to shift to virtual learning for students in fifth through 12th grades on Friday, though students returned to classrooms Tuesday. The change affected students at Custer Baker Intermediate School, Franklin Community Middle School and Franklin Community High School, spokesperson Robin Betts said in an email.

Whiteland Community High School also shifted to virtual learning Friday due to staffing shortages. Students were to return to classrooms Tuesday, according to an email sent to parents Thursday.

Edinburgh schools’ decision to shift to virtual learning comes shortly after four Johnson County school districts joined Edinburgh schools in implementing mask mandates due to increased COVID cases. Indian Creek schools was the only district in the county without a mask mandate as of Tuesday.