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With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state spiking to record levels, bus drivers and teachers in quarantine, students getting sick and the holidays looming, Huntsville ISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Sheppard made a tough decision this week.

The secondary campuses, he decreed, would switch to remote learning until after Thanksgiving.

It seemed like the only safe way to proceed after the myriad disruptions caused by the surging coronavirus.

“Due to increased employee absences and a shortage of available substitutes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to effectively staff classrooms at our secondary campuses,” Sheppard said.

Beginning today, all high school students in grades ninth through 12th will transition to remote learning, while Mance Park Middle School and Huntsville Intermediate School students will transition on Wednesday. All campuses will be closed on Friday, Nov. 20.

“This temporary model change is not a result of active COVID-19 positive cases,” Sheppard added. “This difficult decision is due to the increased number of employees and students who are out for precautionary isolation and quarantine protocol per our Hornet Return to School Plan, as well as others who are out for normal absences and illnesses this time of year.”

All elementary campuses will operate as normal.

School is scheduled to resume with both learning models after the Thanksgiving break on Monday, Nov. 30.

Athletics, fine arts and other extra-curricular activities will continue as planned. Coaches, directors and sponsors will communicate with their teams/groups regarding schedules and additional information.

District officials noted that its campus curbside lunch pickup will be held from noon to 1 p.m. at the middle school and intermediate school on Wednesday and Thursday only, while pickup will also be available at the high school today.

The bulk frozen multi-meal pack pickup will also be available to all HISD online learners from 1-2 p.m. today at Scott Johnson Elementary School for students ages 0 to 4th grade and at Huntsville Intermediate School for students in 5th-12th grades.

More details on the district’s meal program is available at www.huntsville-isd.org/meals.

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