Bayfield School District announced Tuesday that classes, academic events and other planned activities have been postponed for the rest of the week because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Twenty teachers were in quarantine after being exposed to the virus or testing positive for it, and 23% of the student body was absent by the end of the day Tuesday, said Superintendent Kevin Aten.
The school district employs just under 100 teachers and about 170 staff members, Aten said.
The announcement was posted to the school district’s website, emailed to parents and displayed on the district Facebook page.
“We know this is really the safest thing for our school and our community,” Aten said. “Out of an abundance of precaution, we’re going to shut things down for a few days.”
Aten said a meeting with custodial and maintenance staff members was held Tuesday and a deep cleaning and sanitizing of school buildings and facilities, including transportation, will be carried out this week.
Basketball games were canceled, and two community meetings intended to explore the possibility of switching to a four-day school week were postponed.
Aten said the school district views a four-day school week as a tool for teacher recruitment and retention.
“One hundred sixteen of 178 school districts are already on a four-day week, and I don’t think people realize that,” Aten said. “It is a clear majority.”
Aten said the decision to cancel classes and postpone the community meetings was a difficult decision but one the district doesn’t take lightly, and the district is doing everything it can to keep students, staff members and the community safe.
In a community announcement released in August ahead of the 2021-22 school year, Bayfield School District said it welcomes and recommends mask-wearing for all individuals who enter its facilities, but it is not requiring masking for staff members or students, regardless of vaccination status.