On Friday, four St. Paul County schools temporarily switched to virtual learning due to ongoing staffing shortages related to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the school district, Humboldt and Creative Arts High Schools, Galtier Elementary School, and K-12 RiverEast Small Special Education School will be virtual learning through Tuesday.
The four schools had 1,640 students, or 5 percent of the district’s students.
All four buildings remain open for students who want or need personal support, spokesman Kevin Burns said. Buses are still running and meals are available to all students.
This month, several major counties in Minnesota switched to online learning for a week or two, but most of them remain fully in-person.
St. Paul County leaders had a plan to move all their schools to virtual learning for two weeks, but they abandoned it last week after the teachers’ union refused to approve it.
Instead, the district announced on Tuesday that selected schools will switch to virtual teaching if at least 25 percent of their classroom teachers are expected to be absent for four or more days.
There were 782 employees in the county who were at work this month who were infected and capable of transmitting the coronavirus, up from 218 for all of December.
St. Paul began the school year with a shortage of teachers and other staff, and replacements were much more difficult to find than in a regular school year. Teachers usually spend their time preparing to cover for absent colleagues, and licensed staff who are not assigned to buildings have been called in to help as deputies.