Sublette schools go to remote learning only

Meghan Flynn

Sublette Unified School District 374 schools have been remote since Monday.

Rex Bruce, USD 374 superintendent, said the district decided to go to remote learning for several reasons, with the main one being lack of employees to operate effectively.

The staff day care closed because the teachers tested positive, so staff had to find a place for their children and then more and more staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus or been quarantined, Bruce said.

“We couldn't hardly man the school was one thing, and the ones that we did they were trying to teach students in the classroom and teach remote, and it just got quite difficult for a lot of them, spending a lot of time trying to get all that done,” he said.

Another reason for the switch to remote learning is the number of positive coronavirus cases.

Bruce said when the district decided on Sept. 17 to go to online-only learning by Monday, there were 11 positive cases and 50 or so quarantines.

“I just had a gut feeling we need to do it, we did it and now we're quite a bit higher than that,” he said.

He knows that the number of positive cases rose by Monday, by at least seven to eight cases, but he won’t get the final number until Thursday or Friday.

The staff also was just spread too thin, Bruce said. Teachers didn’t have a prep period and were working from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. non-stop, and they didn’t have lunch because they had to watch the students at lunch. It got to be a bit much, he said.

As of Wednesday morning, every student in the district has internet access, Bruce said. The district got routers for the families that didn’t have internet access.

Bruce said it costs about $280 per family to provide internet access, and the funds are coming from SPARK grant funding.

The households will only have internet access between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m., Bruce said.

Remote learning will not be like the continuous learning of the spring, Bruce said. Students have to log in by 8 a.m. and have a full school day.

“Some of the classes we're not having, weight lifting and P.E. and you can't have band, so they're just off at that time and it's their responsibility to get back online before their next class,” he said.

The transition is an easier one than in the spring, Bruce said. Unlike then, the district has taught every student how to use Google Classroom and other programs in the event they had to go to remote learning at the beginning of the school year, which began on Sept. 1.

“When we went remote, it was just the same old, same old for them, they'd already practiced it and learned it,” he said. “It was definitely an easier transition.”

Remote learning will continue indefinitely, Bruce said. He’s not sure when students and staff will return for on-site learning.