KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Park Hill School District warned parents it may need to cancel school because of the number of teachers and staff who are sick.

The district emailed parents and guardians of students Thursday. In the email, the district said that more than 200 employees were out sick. The district was only able to cover 54% of those absences with substitutes.

“This is more than we have ever seen in the history of the Park Hill School District,” the email said.

The district said it worked to keep school in session by assigning custodians to answer phones. It’s also asked everyone with proper certification, including district administrators, to cover classroom instruction.

“As illness numbers continue to rise, we are reaching a breaking point. If we do not have enough staff to properly supervise our students, we cannot have school,” the district’s email to parents said.

Park Hill School District said if staff absences increase any more the next step is to close schools for one or more days.

“This would mean everything would close – our schools, our Park Hill Online Academy, our offices, our childcare programs, our tuition preschool, our athletics, our activities and our events. We would not go to virtual learning or an AMI (alternative methods of instruction) day,” the email said.

The district asked parents to make plans now and promised to give as much warning as possible if schools would close. It also asked parents to keep their children at home if they are sick.

The Belton School District also decided to make changes because of the number of staff and students out sick on Thursday.

The district said it notified parents that it would close schools and shift to online classes beginning Friday, Jan. 21. The virtual classes will continue through Tuesday, Jan. 25.

In Lafayette County, the Lexington School District canceled classes for Friday due to increased student and staff absences from COVID-19 and other illnesses. All activities scheduled for Friday through Sunday are also canceled.

Other area school districts were forced to make similar decisions this week.

The Odessa School District announced Wednesday that it would move to online learning for the remainder of this week.

The Sedalia School District decided to cancel classes Thursday and Friday due to both staff shortages and the dangerous wind chill.

In Warrensburg, weather and increased staff and student absences forced the school district to cancel classes Thursday and Friday. The district will not have any remote learning.

Knob Noster School District has also extended its school closure through Thursday and Friday due to student and staff illnesses. The district hasn’t been in school all week.