ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Another school district has announced plans to go online this fall after COVID-19 cases spike in St. Louis County. Seven local districts have announced that all students will be learning from a distance when school resumes.
The Parkway School District has informed parents that all schools will start the year online. A letter was sent to parents at 11:00 am. The district had previously planned on a hybrid model with the option for virtual learning. They will reevaluate the decision in late October.
This letter was sent to parents today:
Dear Families and Staff,
As I mentioned these past few months, it is clear we must all be flexible and patient during these historic times. I cannot tell you how thankful and proud I am to work in a community that has been so supportive, flexible and indeed patient as we navigate our time together.
I also want to thank you for responding so quickly to our survey asking for your back-to-school learning preferences. We realize we didn’t give you and your family much time to consider the options and get your questions answered. We learned that 67% of families currently prefer in-person learning and 33% prefer virtual learning.
Our next step was going to be to place families who chose the in-person option into groups to attend school either on Wednesdays and Fridays or Tuesdays and Thursdays.
However, these plans have now changed.
Due to the continued increasing spread of COVID-19 in the region, on Monday St. Louis County Executive Sam Page issued a new directive prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more people and limiting businesses to 25% capacity beginning this Friday. In order to help contain the spread of the virus, we simply cannot engage in face-to-face learning in a high quality way under these updated health guidelines. Additionally, current CDC guidelines state that schools should make decisions based on the level of virus transmission in the local community, which is currently at an all-time high. So per our Return to Learn plan, we need to switch to Distance Learning for all students. I have also shared a video update here.
Instead of starting on August 24 under the blended learning model (Option 1, Plan B as outlined in this video and in this graphic), we will begin with Option 1, Plan C which is Distance Learning, full-time learning online with Parkway teachers.
We realize this will be a disappointment for families who chose the in-person experience. It is disappointing to us as well. We worked extremely hard to find a way to get students back in school. We remain committed to getting students back in the schools as soon as possible because that is where they thrive the best.
We will re-evaluate prior to the end of the nine-week quarter on October 23. At that time, if it is safe to do so, we will switch back to Option 1, Plan B for families who chose the in-person learning option. At that time, families who selected Option 2, Parkway Virtual Campus, will be able to continue learning virtually. Before making any changes, we will re-confirm your preferences for either the in-person Plan B or to remain in the Parkway Virtual Campus option for the second quarter.
While we are in Distance Learning, all Parkway schools will use the same schedule and expectations already in place for Parkway Virtual Campus. To see school schedules and learn more about how Distance Learning will differ from the emergency learning that was in place last spring, please visit the Distance Learning page.
While this change is disappointing, doing so now will allow your child’s school and teachers to begin reaching out to you earlier and provide certainty for the start of the school year while we all deal with very uncertain times.
We sincerely apologize for this unexpected change to the start of school, and the impact it will have on many families. We will communicate with you along the way, and do everything we can to support you and your child’s learning. We appreciate your continued patience as we now all prepare to start the school year online.
Dr. Keith Marty, SuperintendentLetter sent to Parkway parents
Jeff Todd, Board of Education President
A survey was conducted in May and received more than 11,000 responses from parents and staff. It showed that 44 percent of parents preferred a blend of in-person and online learning. Meanwhile, 42 percent of parents preferred in-person learning at school and 14 percent would rather have the entire school year online.
Teachers and staff’s responses were similar, with about 50 percent preferring a blend of the two options, 35 percent preferring in-person learning and 12 percent solely online.
Many Missouri students will be headed back classrooms this fall. Governor Mike Parson is in St. Louis Wednesday to discuss the re-opening of schools during the pandemic.
The governor will hold a meeting at Jennings High School today. This is one of the few stops Parson will make during his state-wide tour of schools. Tuesday he met with leaders at Capitol City High School in Jefferson City.
Many districts in the St. Louis area have already announced plans for the start of the school year. Just one month before the first day of school, thousands of students in Kirkwood and St. Louis learned they will be staying home.
Kirkwood is the seventh school district in St. Louis County to move to an all-virtual start to the 2020-2021 year, following Ferguson-Florissant, Hazelwood, Maplewood-Richmond Heights, and Ritenour. school reopening plan
Check your school’s plan for reopening or going online this fall here. We have link to each school’s website so you can review their specific guidelines.