Due to “staff availability,” Warren County Public Schools will be closed for in-person classes through at least Wednesday.

On Monday, the school district announced suddenly that it would pivot to nontraditional instruction. COVID-19 cases remained high Tuesday within WCPS and included more than 400 cases among students and staff.

“Due to staff availability, WCPS will utilize NTI days 4 and 5 on Tuesday, January 18 and Wednesday, January 19, 2022. An update will be provided by Wednesday afternoon,” the school district tweeted Monday afternoon.

The Daily News asked WCPS on Monday how many students and staff were under quarantines, how many WCPS employees were unavailable for work and whether the district’s staffing issues were because of its COVID-19 cases.

WCPS spokeswoman Lauren Hanson Thurmond sent the following reply via email Tuesday afternoon:

“We currently have 94 staff members in isolation due to being positive for COVID-19. As is typical with over 2,800+ employees, we have other staff members out for various illnesses and personal reasons unrelated to COVID-19. We currently have 424 students in isolation due to being COVID-19 positive and approximately 509 students in quarantine due to exposure. These numbers are as of 1:45 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2022. The most up-to-date COVID-19 numbers are posted on our website daily.”

Thurmond did not mention how many WCPS employees were under quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure.

To date, WCPS has used five of the 10 nontraditional instruction days it gets per year under state law.

Last week, Gov. Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 25 into law, granting school districts 10 “remote learning” days that they can use to shutter individual schools or grade levels in the event of an outbreak but not every school in their district.

Schools in Kentucky also no longer need to contact trace or quarantine in the event of a COVID-19 exposure – provided they adopt universal masking – according to recently updated K-12 guidance.

However, despite that flexibility, the Warren County district has been reluctant to say whether it will bring back universal masking for its schools.

Asked if WCPS will return to universal masking – as it has done in the past following escalating COVID-19 cases within its schools – Superintendent Rob Clayton issued the following statement to the Daily News last week:

“On Oct. 21, 2021, the Warren County Public Schools Board of Education’s members voted to make face coverings optional in school facilities and extra-curricular events, beginning Nov. 1, 2021. At that time, there was a consistent decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Since returning from winter break, WCPS has experienced a rise in the number of positive COVID-19 cases amongst students and staff, which mirrors an increase seen throughout our community, state and nation.

“ … WCPS continues to monitor the same four metrics (local hospital capacity, community incidence rates, district incidence rates and district quarantine numbers) daily and any change in current COVID-19 protocols will be communicated to our school community in as timely a manner as possible,” the statement said.

Several school districts, including Russellville Independent Schools and Glasgow Independent Schools, have announced they will use at-home instruction for at least part of or the remainder of the week due to rising virus cases and staffing issues.

The districts joined a growing list of schools that were closed Tuesday due to COVID-19’s impact on students and staff or hazardous roads from winter weather.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdaily news.com.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.