CHIPPEWA FALLS (WQOW)- After declaring that Chippewa Falls schools would go virtual in early November, Superintendent Jeff Holmes said that decision was agonizing to make. Now, the district has chosen to extend its virtual format, which Holmes said was even more heartbreaking to announce.
"When I say it's a heartbreaking decision, I mean that sincerely," Holmes said. "I do completely understand that in-person learning is much better for our students than when we're in a position that has to be fully remote."
The district had already transitioned to remote learning on Nov. 4, and had planned to return in-person in December. Holmes cited a staffing shortage as the main issue, and new data estimates collected by the district and public health officials show the issue has only gotten worse.
"We were looking at 694 students and staff being in either isolation or quarantine situations if we were in-person today," Holmes said.
Chippewa County Public Health Director Angela Weideman urged the district to stick with its virtual learning format, which Holmes said was the tipping point to make the decision.
"When Ms. Weideman came out with her recommendation, I felt like I needed to pay attention to that," Holmes said. "It's necessary that you think with both your mind and your heart. Myself and other here do have a big heart, and want to do the best we can for the people we serve."
District officials said they plan to reevaluate the situation over the next couple of months, but for now the plan is to keep students out of school buildings until at least Jan. 21.