Mid-Missouri schools move ahead with in-person learning as coronavirus surge sets records | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools


School is back in session for districts around Mid-Missouri, but the return to classrooms has coincided with a meteoric rise in new coronavirus infections, causing at least one area school to hold remote classes and creating worries among some parents.

Southern Boone School District students went back to in-person learning Monday after the district switched to virtual learning to end last week. The district cited staffing and substitute teaching shortages related to the uptick in COVID-19 cases.

“It’s just our numbers are really high right now. We took two days off of school last week. Thursday and Friday in an effort to try and get the staff healthier and in a better position”, Superintendent at Southern Boone, Christopher Felmlee said.

Felmlee said Friday in a letter to parents that the school district is doing everything it can to keep its students in person. “Keeping our students and staff safe and healthy needs to be a team effort. We need parents to keep children exhibiting COVID-19 related symptoms at home”, Felmlee wrote.

Although Southern Boone County’s superintendent doesn’t believe COVID-19 cases will get nearly as bad as it was at the beginning of the pandemic… he is concerned with a lack of a mask requirement.

“There’s a time and a place and a purpose for them. and as these numbers are becoming more concerning I think it’s practical to take certain measures again”, Felmlee said.

Columbia Public Schools returned to in-person learning last week and ended the week with a message to parents about how to keep students in classrooms as record case rates continue.

“Currently at this moment in time, the numbers are such that any changes in learning modes or closures are not being considered,” the district said in the letter. “We are, however, asking for your support and assistance.”

The district says it might have to implement mask requirements temporarily if case levels get high enough. CPS reported 145 active student coronavirus cases Monday morning, affecting nearly every district building. The district had just a 61% substitute teacher fill rate last week.

The school board voted before the semester began to end a district-wide mask mandate for employees and students under continuing legal threats from Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Some parents are now asking for those rules to return as coronavirus cases shatter records in Boone County and statewide.

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition urging the Columbia Board of Education to have an emergency meeting over reinstating a mask mandate. The board meets Monday night but its agenda does not include a discussion of mask mandates.

The district has urged all students to keep wearing masks.

“While we do not have a universal masking requirement in place, we have been encouraged by the number of students and staff who have continued to wear masks,” CPS wrote in the letter. “We ask you to encourage your scholar to wear a mask to school.”

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