HAMILTON, Ohio — Like many other school districts, Hamilton City Schools is citing COVID-related staffing issues as they shut down classes for the rest of the week. In a notice sent Tuesday morning, Superintendent Mike Holbrook announced the district will be closed until Tuesday, Jan. 18.
“Staff illness has reached a critical level where staffing classrooms is no longer possible," Holbrook said. "Due to this challenge, Hamilton City Schools will be closed for students, and no remote learning will be required."
Hamilton City Schools were already scheduled to be closed Friday for a professional training and development day for school instructors, as well as Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. While a couple of Bridgeport Elementary School parents said they were able to find child care on short notice, they said they know the situation is not easy for families.
"We do have to make some quick decisions as far as what to do for childcare for the next two days," parent Tasha Wilson said.
Wilson has two daughters who attend Bridgeport Elementary. When the district announced it was canceling classes, she said she immediately made plans for her sitter to watch her children so she could make it work.
"It's definitely not easy," Wilson said. "The more notice the better but at the same time we definitely understand the obligation to the safety of our kids in the schools."
Stacey Dudas' daughter is in preschool at Bridgeport. She was also able to arrange for her child care provider to take her daughter for the extra days.
"It is what it is, unfortunately, right now," Dudas said. "I guess I wasn't super surprised considering the spread of COVID right now. I was kind of anticipating it, but it was still disappointing. I understand why the schools would have to do that."
The district said 170 teachers and classroom educational assistants were out sick Tuesday. Hamilton City Schools employs 800 teachers. The district is the first in Butler County to close live classes due to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.
"To feel that we're moving back towards a place where they're going to need to close down temporarily, I struggle with it a little but I also understand that we have an obligation to their safety," Wilson said.
Both Wilson and Dudas said they are hopeful in-person learning is able to continue after this temporary closure while still keeping students and staff safe.