The Pike Township Schools district will continue remote learning for the rest of the week in response to staff illnesses. This comes after the district was unable to provide bus routes to all students Monday and Tuesday and had to switch to remote learning due to a lack of drivers and staff.
The challenge comes as the Delta and Omicron variants are causing surges of COVID-19 cases in Indiana. The Gary Community School Corporation also opted to provide virtual classes this week due to an increase in infections.
Pike Township has struggled to offer in-person classes throughout the first part of this school year. Many students switched to remote learning at least four times and canceled school once as bus drivers and instructional staff were absent during contentious contract negotiations.
In late November, some parents of the district’s roughly 11,000 students started an online petition to remove superintendent Flora Reichanadter, partially due to her leadership during the contract bargaining sessions. Of the teachers association members who attended a union meeting last month, 99 percent approved a vote of no confidence in the superintendent. Reichanadter has not attended the last three school board meetings.
School districts across the country have experienced staff shortages, such as teacher and nurse shortages, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NPR reported other issues around mental health concerns and student behavior have also contributed to school closures.
The district’s Nathaniel Jones Early Learning Center will remain open. Pike Township hopes to return to in-person classes on Monday.