Lewiston High School junior Josh Murphy throws against the back wall of an empty dugout Monday at the school’s baseball field. Murphy finished four classes remotely before coming down to the field to throw. “I try to find a field where I can throw to keep my arm live and loose for when we hopefully get back to be able to practice next week,” he said. Classes at Lewiston schools are all remote this week because of staffing shortages. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Lewiston’s public schools are going entirely remote this week because the district can’t keep enough buses rolling due to staffing shortages.

Superintendent Jake Langlais said in a late Sunday letter to the community that “the ability to transport students to and from school has become too much to surmount.”

A dashboard kept by the Lewiston Public Schools shows the number of COVID-19 cases at each of the district’s schools as of midday Monday. Online screenshot

Since the schools are on break next week, the decision to switch to remote-only this week means students won’t be back in the classroom until Monday, April 26.

“This is not an easy decision,” Langlais said. “I know this impacts each and every family. However, if we cannot transport our students, we need to be remote.”

The district said it had three people involved in transportation who tested positive for COVID-19 and at least four others who are sidelined for other reasons.

“We anticipate we will open after April break for in-person school as scheduled,” he said.

But he also pointed out a surge in absences in recent days that may be related to COVID-19.

Langlais said the district normally has between 90 and 105 absences daily. Last week, it hit 114 twice and on Friday the tally reached 142.

“There have been new additional positives and quarantines associated with those new positives this weekend,” the superintendent said.

He urged everyone to be aware of “a significant increase” in coronavirus cases and the necessity for close contacts to quarantine themselves.

Langlais said the district will have “limited ability to provide food” this week. It plans to have remote distributions as it did last spring at each school between 10 a.m. and noon, except for Lewiston High School. The Root Cellar will also have meals, he said.

The district’s meals will be available only this week. During break, they won’t be distributed.

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