ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – For parents who choose to send their children back to school, the classroom will not be a return to normal. Both parents and educators must face new challenges.
School buses will be a big test – with not only possible assigned seating, but also instructions for students to start sitting in the back of the bus first. Students are going to be challenged with changes at every corner.
“I want to go back to school because I will get to meet new kids,” said Dylan Collier, who’s ready for the fifth grade in the Parkway School District.
Dylan’s grandmother, Lorraine Tallevast, fears it’s not going to be that simple.
“I have so many mixed emotions,” she said.
Dylan and his brother Tyler, who’s going into fourth grade, both get extra help through the Special School District. Lorraine says her younger grandson was especially affected by not being inside a classroom.
“He missed out on a lot; he definitely fell behind again,” she said.
Lorraine says her grandkids are good at wearing their masks inside but they’ll need more than one each day.
“My 9-year-old has a lot of allergies and they’ve been skyrocketing this year, so he says it’s a lot of coughing and sneezing and blowing your nose,” she said. “Well, you have to take your mask off to blow your nose.”
The Griffin children in the Hazelwood School District will learn at home this year. Their mom says it will be more difficult – but safer. However, 15-year-old Indya Griffin is asking mom to consider an exception for her.
“This year, I was supposed to be cheer captain and with me trying to be cheer captain, it’s hard to get everyone together and I don’t know if we’re going to have any games,” Indya said.
Her mom points out that returning to the classroom won’t be the same anyway, especially when it comes to extracurricular activities.
Guidelines released by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on July 9 is full of examples about staying apart and keeping distance.
One example reads: “…students should stay with the same group of students and adults throughout the day. If classes must rotate, schools should consider rotating teachers, rather than moving groups of students throughout the school building.”
Schools want to avoid positive tests so they can stay open.
“The thing that we all have to remember is it’s going to look so different,” said Deidre Townsend, a social worker in the Webster Groves School District who also has two children in elementary school.