Gulf District Schools to close Jan. 14 due to COVID-related staffing shortages

Gulf District Schools will be closed tomorrow, Jan. 14, due to staffing shortages associated with higher rates of COVID-19.

Superintendent Jim Norton said that district staff met after school ended on Jan. 13 to discuss whether the measure needed to be taken.

“Some time after 4 o’clock, the four principals and my immediate district staff, and I were on the phone, and by the time we got off, I said, ‘Guys, what do you want to do?’ And they said, ‘Please, we’d be better off if we just closed and had a four day weekend,'” Norton told the Star. “I said, ‘Well, that’s what we’re gonna do.'”

Schools were already closed on Monday, Jan. 17  in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Norton  said that district staff felt the longer break would allow those students out sick to rest and catch up. He said it would also help with dwindling staff numbers, which are prevalent in all four schools.

“We have a lot of staffing shortages across the board at both ends of the county,” Norton told the Star. “It makes sense to just call it a wellness day. We build these hours and days into our school calendar , and we still have the ability to do it again if we need to during the remainder of the school year.”

Gulf District Schools’ announcement came a few hours after Holmes County Schools said they would be closed through Jan. 17, citing similar concerns. 

Students and staff are expected to return to campus as normal on  Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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