CLAYTON, Mo. – Back to school safety during the COVID-19 pandemic was the main topic of discussion for educators and top health officials in Jefferson City. St. Louis County executive Dr. Sam Page is holding holds his regular COVID-19 briefing at 8:30 am at the county administration building.
Everyone seems to agree that there is not a one size fits all concept for reopening schools across Missouri. The debate is on whether it’s safe for kids to return to the classroom or whether virtual learning is a better option at least for now.
Some don’t want students to return to the classroom until there is a COVID-19 vaccine. Others including the state health department director and commissioner of education argue that students will fall too far behind in their education if they don’t return to class.
“From a public health perspective, we think school is really important developmentally. That we know that children learn from brain development at certain windows of time,” said Dr. Randall Williams.
“I understand there is a risk versus reward of okay kids need to learn, but at the same time, you know, what if my kid now gets a heart disease?” said Rep. Matt Sain.
The state is encouraging counties to offer funding to help pay for PPE or cleaning supplies for schools. The department of health says it will help with contact tracing.
Meanwhile, the Fort Zumwalt School District pushed back the start of the school year from August 24 th to August 31. Superintendent Bernard Dubray says more students have opted for virtual learning than expected and teachers need more time to plan for the influx.
The district is starting the year with two options for families either send students to school for five days a week of in-person instruction or do all virtual learning.