Hamilton City Schools superintendent on closures: These are ‘unprecedented times’

Hamilton School Board members, left to right, Shaquila Mathews, Dave Davidson, Laurin Sprague, Margaret Baker and Stece Isgro participate in a meeting Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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Hamilton School Board members, left to right, Shaquila Mathews, Dave Davidson, Laurin Sprague, Margaret Baker and Stece Isgro participate in a meeting Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

At board meeting, Laurin Sprague renewed as president, Mag Baker as vice president

The leader of Hamilton City Schools told the district’s school board the latest struggle with the on-going COVID-19 pandemic — including this week’s school closings — are “unprecedented times.”

“We are going through something that has never been dealt with before,” Hamilton Schools Superintendent Mike Holbrook told the board of education during its first meeting of the new year held at the schools’ central office Thursday evening.

The 9,500-student district was the first in the area this week to make the call to shut down live classes — starting Wednesday through next Tuesday — in response to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the region.

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A few days later more Butler and Warren County school districts followed Hamilton’s lead in canceling classes — most closing down schools Friday in advance of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday on Monday — and planning to re-open on Tuesday.

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Hamilton and the other area districts cited rocketing teacher and staff absences from COVID-19 and its Omicron variant for unworkable employee shortages that were halting school operations.

Holbrook praised the district’s employees for their sacrifices since the American onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

Hamilton Board of Education President Laurin Sprague described the virus’ impact on the city schools this school year as “a rollercoaster.”

“I wish we had a crystal ball to tell our parents what to expect next but we don’t know what to expect next,” said Sprague.

In other board action, the members unanimously voted to return Sprague as board president for 2022 and Margaret Baker as vice president.

Both will be serving in those board capacities for a second consecutive year.

Sprague said the two-year tenures are by design and a tradition in recent years for the board to take advantage of leadership continuity.

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