PFLUGERVILLE, Texas - Pflugerville Independent School District (PfISD) announced Wednesday that all campuses will be closed Friday, Jan. 21 and Monday, Jan. 24 due to the number of staff out with COVID-19.
Dr. Douglas Killian, PfISD Superintendent, explained the reason behind the decision in a press release, saying, "Despite our best efforts to cover classes and keep our campuses operating safely with the number of staff members who are out with COVID-19, our remaining staff simply cannot effectively cover the number of classes needing teachers."
According to Dr. Killian, virtual learning is not an option for the district as a whole and is currently only available to any students active in the district's Virtual Academy. Dr. Killian adds that TEA does not provide funding for district-wide or campus-wide virtual learning (except through remote conferencing). He says however that the staff shortage would extend to virtual instruction and remote conferencing as well.
All high school UIL athletic and fine arts events will continue as scheduled but will be held at a limited capacity. If cancelations or postponements are made, the district will communicate that information first to those directly impacted by their coach/director and then the community.
Killian says the canceled school days should not be seen as a holiday or break, but a chance to give quarantined staff time to recover and return.
Anyone interested in being a substitute teacher for PfISD is asked to apply here.
The full statement from Dr. Killian is below:
Despite our best efforts to cover classes and keep our campuses operating safely with the number of staff members who are out with COVID-19, our remaining staff simply cannot effectively cover the number of classes needing teachers. Therefore, all PfISD schools and offices will be closed Friday, Jan. 21, and Monday, Jan. 24. We have had teachers and staff cover classes on their campuses, and are having central administration staff work as substitutes again. Still, the staff shortage has overwhelmed the District to the point that this closure is necessary.
I am so proud of our teachers and staff who have worked extremely hard to cover extra classes when staff members are out, and greatly appreciate their efforts. Unfortunately, the number of anticipated absences will make it impossible to provide the quality educational environment we need for our students. Additionally, the repeated stress on staff has been overwhelming. The decision to close schools on Friday and Monday was not made lightly, and we wanted to announce our decision early so we could provide our parents and guardians time to find childcare if needed. We do have additional minutes built into our schedule to accommodate the need for closures, and at this time, we will not have to use our bad weather make-up days.
This closure aims to allow time for our teachers and staff to get healthy and return to teaching our students in the classroom. It is important to stress that this is not a break or holiday, and we encourage everyone to stay home as much as possible. Remember, the last extended break led to this current surge. Please do not use this time to plan a trip or spend extended periods of time with people outside of your usual circle. The closure is intended to help mitigate the spread in our community and allow our staff to return from quarantine.
Some may ask why we do not transition to a district-wide virtual learning platform as we did previously. Virtual or remote learning is not an option for our District as a whole. It is currently only available to any students active in our Virtual Academy, and TEA does not provide funding for district-wide or campus-wide virtual learning (except through remote conferencing). However, the staff shortage would extend to virtual instruction and remote conferencing as well.
Athletic and Fine Arts Events
All high school UIL athletic and fine arts events will continue as scheduled as canceling could prompt forfeits and adversely affect students and their standings. We will continue to limit capacity at all athletic and fine arts events. If cancelations or postponements are made for any reason, we will communicate that information first to those directly impacted by their coach/director and then the community.
Substitutes and other Staff Shortages
If you are interested in serving the District as a guest educator (substitute), please apply through our website: www.pfisd.net/subs. Guest educators must have a high school diploma and attend an orientation before working on a campus.
Additionally, even discounting the number of staff members out due to COVID-19 related issues, Pflugerville ISD feels the employment pinch felt around the country. We currently have staff shortages in teachers, substitutes, bus drivers, educational aides, etc. In my 30 years in education, this is the highest number of vacancies I’ve seen at this point in the school year. Despite our exhaustive efforts to recruit workers in the various areas, we’re just not seeing the applicants. If you or someone you know is looking for a job – we’re hiring. If you have a bachelor’s degree, we will work with you to obtain your teaching certificate. It takes a lot of personnel working together in various capacities to provide an education to our children, and we’re happy to see where you could fit in.
In closing, we would like to commend our staff for the job they have been doing to manage and cover all the classes and services while teachers and staff have been out, but the shortage will be too much to address soon. We hope that this closure will give our staff time to meet their isolation requirements, rest up a bit, and ensure we have a roster of teachers and staff available to cover all our classes when we return.
Please continue to do your part in mitigating the spread of COVID in our community. Wear your mask. Wash your hands and stay home if you show any symptoms of COVID. It takes a community effort to stop the spread. Please be diligent and do your part in protecting yourself and those around you.
In the best interest of children,
Dr. Douglas Killian