CAMP POINT, Ill. — Erica Smith has been juggling several balls this week.
The growing number of teachers and staff members who haven’t come to work in the Camp Point Community Unit School District No. 3 have forced Smith, the district’s superintendent, to fill in as needed.
“I’ve done everything,” Smith said Wednesday. “I’ve driven a car on a bus route to take some kids home. I’ve been the secretary in a building. I’ve been the principal in a building. I’ve been in the classrooms subbing as a teacher. I don’t believe I’ve cooked anything, but the students wouldn’t want me to do that. And maybe I haven’t been too heavy on the custodial side. I might have gathered some trash or something.
“I’ve been wherever I can, and it’s still not enough right now.”
That’s why the four buildings in the district will be closed Thursday and Friday. Smith says “15 to 20 percent” of the district’s 125 teachers and staff members have COVID-19.
“It’s not just teachers,” she said. “it’s bus drivers, cooks, custodians … I know 15 to 20 percent doesn’t sound bad, but when everybody’s position is crucial to supervising kids and being with kids, and we don’t have someone to step in and be with those kids … we just can’t do it. We don’t have the subs. We don’t have the manpower to provide a safe and productive school day for our students.”
Smith says a handful of students also have been diagnosed with COVID-19,
“It’s not the students at all,” she said. “We have a few, but I can’t even tell you what the number is right now, because it hasn’t been enough to even be alarming.”
Closing the school for two days, then combining two days off for the weekend and a holiday on Monday for Martin Luther King Day, gives the district a five-day window to recover.
“We know for sure how many are out tomorrow, because we know how many are positive currently,” Smith said. “Every day, we’re adding two or three to the list. That’s how it’s been for a week or so. If we add two or three more (teachers with COVID-19) on Thursday, I mean, we already are scrambling to keep everyone covered.
“I hate to do it. It breaks my heart. But on the flip side, we could have just as easily been out two days in a row for ice or snow or something. If this is what it takes, we’ve just made a five-day weekend for everyone to hopefully go home and get well. I’m hoping that we’re on the downhill side of this peak.”
None of the extra-curricular activities in the district have been canceled, including the Central-Southeastern girls basketball tournament.