NORMANDY, Mo. (AP) — Some Missouri schools facing staffing and student absences because of COVID-19 are facing difficult decisions because state law limits virtual instruction to 36 hours per school year.

The state loosened the 36-hour rule during the last school year but it is in force again this school year.

School districts that close because of high absences and also hit the 36-hour virtual learning limit might have to extend the school year to meet a state requirement to provide 1,044 hours of instruction each year.

The State Board of Education heard a presentation Tuesday about the problem but decided to keep the 36-hour limit on virtual learning.