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Urbana Middle School to stay remote this week

Superintendent Jennifer Ivory-Tatum (center): Our hall monitors, teachers, administrators and more are out sick -- not necessarily from COVID.

URBANA, Jan. 11 — Urbana Middle School will stay with remote instruction for the rest of this week.

Absences among staff at Urbana Middle School pushed the school to go virtual this week. District 116 Superintendent Jennifer Ivory-Tatum says she doesn’t expect other Urbana schools to go virtual.

“Even before Thanksgiving, we have been doing the best we can to cover all of the openings, borrowing subs from other buildings. And that, for some reason, has impacted the middle school more than any of our other buildings,” Ivory-Tatum says.

The absences span types of staff members and include both COVID-19 cases and other causes.

Ivory-Tatum says the school would have been short 35 adults, from hall monitors to administrators. Some have COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus. Some had childcare crises. Some had illnesses besides COVID.

The district sent the middle schoolers home with their Chromebooks on Friday, January 7, in preparation for a potential remote day. On Sunday, January 9, the district announced it would go remote.

Monday was a “transition” day. Teachers held optional Zoom meetings to remind families how to log on and use the virtual classroom tools.

Students studied on Zoom on Tuesday. Some students logged in from their UMS classrooms – a “learning hub” option the district provided for families unable to watch their child at home.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the district announced that the remote days would continue for the rest of the week.

Ivory-Tatum explains that enough staff would be back by Friday to restart in-person class. The district decided, though, that it would be less disruptive to students to restart in-person after the Monday January 17 holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Emily Hays is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter @amihatt.

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Emily Hays

Emily Hays

Emily Hays started at WILL in October 2021 after three-plus years in local newsrooms in Virginia and Connecticut. She has won state awards for her housing coverage at Charlottesville Tomorrow and her education reporting at the New Haven Independent. Emily graduated from Yale University where she majored in History and South Asian Studies.

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