Wilson County Schools announced Wednesday it was cancelling school Friday as part of a continuing effort to fight the surge in COVID-19 cases and quarantines affecting the district.

WCS spokesman Bart Barker said that the decision was made as administrators looked at the number of staff likely to be out Friday.

On Nov. 13, almost 200 staff members were out due to COVID-19 illness or quarantine, other illnesses and for medical appointments made long in advance. The district expected that number to be even higher this Friday.

“Even with an ‘an all-hands on deck’ approach, the forecast for staffing on Friday did not look good, therefore a decision was made in the best interest of all of our teachers, staff and students,” Barker said in an email. He added that the pool of substitute teachers has shrunk, raising doubts about the ability to call enough in.

This weekend’s athletic contests, including Watertown High School’s football playoff game against Hartsville and Saturday’s high school basketball games, were still on as of presstime Wednesday.

Friday will treated as a stockpile day, with no expectations from students. Teachers will report to schools and all Kids Club and TLC activities will still be open.

“While Friday does give us a chance to catch our collective staffing breath as we move into Thanksgiving break next week, we want to remind our communities, families and students to be mindful of safe health as we depart for Thanksgiving break a day early,” Barker said. “We know that it’s the time of year where there is typically more travel and gatherings, so being as responsible as we can be will help us in ultimately getting to where we want to go. The last thing we want to do is move to a districtwide shutdown to Remote.”

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