Collierville High School students will learn remotely for the rest of the week as COVID cases swell in the region, increasing student and staff absences.
Collierville Schools officials announced the move in a statement on Monday afternoon, saying the district had been granted a waiver from state Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, allowing the district to go virtual.
The shift comes just over a week after the Collierville school board opted not to require students to wear masks inside school buildings when they returned from winter break, as the omicron variant fueled the most recent COVID surge. At that time, Collierville schools Superintendent Gary Lilly said his greatest fear was that the district wouldn’t have enough people to staff schools, the Commercial Appeal reported.
This week, Lilly’s fears came to fruition. As of Monday, 14% of students and teachers and 29% of school support staff were currently infected with COVID or had potentially been exposed to the virus, the district said.
Despite administrators’ efforts to send staff from the district offices, as well as the curriculum, human resources, and student services departments to Collierville High School, the district was still unable to cover all classes, Lilly said in his waiver request sent to Schwinn around 11 a.m. Monday.
Schwinn granted the waiver just before 3 p.m.
As of Friday, the last time the district updated its COVID dashboard, officials reported 35 COVID cases among staff members and 125 among students. Of those cases, 46 were among Collierville High School students and seven were among staff.
Across Shelby County, the health department reported 2,327 new cases on Monday, including 562 among children under the age of 18. In total, there are over 30,000 active COVID cases in the county, with 6,000 among children.
Collierville High School will operate online only through Friday. Extracurriculars and sports also will be canceled. Classes will proceed as normal at the district’s other schools.