The Dawson Springs Independent School system announced Tuesday that students will learn virtually for the rest of the week.

Superintendent Leonard Whalen said he hopes students will be able to return to in-person learning on Monday, depending on staffing.

“If we don’t have enough staff, then we won’t,” he said. “At the end of the day, what determines whether or not we have school is if we have enough staff to run the buildings.”

He said a combination of staff and teachers being out for either quarantine or positive COVID-19 tests in both buildings resulted in not enough staff to run the school.

“We only have a couple of substitutes that are active at this point due to COVID, and it is just extremely difficult for us to cover those outages without a significant amount of subs and availability,” said Whalen.

Elementary Principal Jennifer Ward said preparations to go viral were started at the beginning of the school year and will be made easier due to last year’s experiences.

“The teachers are still utilizing the same methods that we were last year. Using Google Classroom and putting assignments in there, so at the worst-case scenario and we had to go virtual, then the students would already be prepared,” she said.

Students take their Chromebooks home at the end of each day, so no one had to come to the school for assignments or technology, she said. They could wake up the morning of and immediately start on classwork.

Ward said the hard part was working with the kindergartners because most of them had not had to handle a Chromebook before. She said those teachers had already printed out packets on Tuesday to send home, so the parents and students wouldn’t have to figure out the Chromebook to get work done.

“We are trying to make it as seamless and easy as possible, while at the same time trying to cover all the content,” said Ward, who called the decision to go virtual one of the hardest decisions the district has had to make because they all know students learn best in the classroom.

“Our parents are doing an amazing job of helping the kids and getting the work done,” said Ward. “It is greatly appreciated.”

She said teachers and staff members who are at home because of quarantine or a positive test are continuing to reach out to students and work on Google Classrooms from home.

Whalen said he hopes enough staff and teachers will be negative or out of quarantine by Monday so they can continue in-person learning.

“It is a change from our routine where we have been for the last several weeks,” he said. “We are hopeful this will only last a few days so we can get back at it.”

A decision for next week’s schedule will be made by Sunday, said Whalen.

For more information, parents should contact their child’s school at 270-797-3811.