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Students return to in-person learning at Parkway School District

COVID and the Classroom

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – More students in the Parkway School District returned to the classroom Tuesday. Families in the district were given the option for full-time in-person learning.

The Parkway Board of Education voted in September to approve a plan for the second quarter and a return to in-person learning.

As the district moves forward together, its decisions and hearts remain focused on the academic, physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of our students and the staff who care for the children each day.

Officials say they know these decisions significantly impact each family, so they are working harder than ever before on behalf of students and staff to make the right decisions during this challenging time.

Beginning in second quarter

  • In-Person K-8: Students began returning on a part-time schedule starting October 22 for grades K-5 and on October 27 for grades 6-8.
  • This is a short transition period which is outlined here. Provided that the key health metrics continue to support this decision, K-8 students would return five days a week starting November 9.
  • Virtual Campus K-8: Families who have chosen Virtual Campus in grades K-5 will begin learning online with their second-quarter teacher on October 22 and students in grades 6-8 will begin on October 27.
  • All High School 9-12: Our high school students will return to school on a part time schedule on November 10. High school virtual students will continue learning online.
  • Preschool: Classes will resume on October 27 with reduced class sizes. An afternoon section will be available online for families who prefer a virtual option.

What factors were used to make this decision?

The district is closely monitoring the key health data in our community and evaluating the distance learning experiences of students. You can see the health data the district is using to inform our decisions on our Community Health Dashboard here.

  • The majority of school districts in the region have similar plans based on current health data for St. Louis County. Our plans are also consistent with recommendations from the St. Louis County Health Department.
  • For elementary and middle school-age children, the key health metrics continue to trend positively. We also know distance learning has been more challenging for our younger students.

Why was the decision made for high school students to continue distance learning for the second quarter?

  • The district is still concerned about the number of positive cases among high school age students. St. Louis County youth ages 15-19 are trending in the red threshold for average new cases, indicating there is an accelerated community spread in this age group. Since March of 2020, 85 percent of all the positive cases among all children in the Parkway community are ages 15-19. The positivity rate among ages 15-19 is currently five to eight times higher than younger children. You can see more details on the rates by age group here.
  • While the district wants high school students back in school, they say they have received positive feedback overall about the Distance Learning experience for high school students. Parents, students, and teachers have shared students are generally able to manage learning from home with quality instruction from teachers and many are enjoying the benefits of learning online, including more sleep and flexibility of schedules.
  • They say they know that some students are struggling and are developing plans that will provide opportunities for in-person intervention and support at school for identified students so we can ensure their unique needs are met.
  • High school class periods will be expanded to 70 minutes for the second quarter. This extra time will allow teachers to provide increased support targeted to students in need of additional help. Learning support time on Wednesdays will still be available and teachers will continue to hold office hours at the end of each day.
  • There are unique issues in a high school building that remain a concern. District officials say high schools would have between 1,000 -1,400 students on average attending school in one indoor space, with students frequently moving between classes and mixing groups. This reality, when combined with the higher transmission rates among older teens, does not allow for adequate safety precautions for our high school students at this time.
  • While the district decided to continue with Distance Learning right now, please know our goal is to get our high school students back in school for the third quarter if possible.

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