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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is trying to plan ahead, just in case mask requirements in certain cities and school districts don’t work.

“The options that Missouri school districts have in front of them this year is what we call the Alternative Methods of Instruction Statute, or AMI,” spokeswoman Mallory McGowin said Friday.

McGowin said the statute allows a school district to shift to a distanced or virtual learning environment during something like the pandemic. The problem is it only goes for 36 hours a year, likely just five days, or one week of learning.

“If they run out of those days, or if they choose not to use those AMI days, they have to make the difficult decision to close their doors and make up those hours of instruction later in the school year if they need to meet the necessary required hours of instruction in a given school year,” McGowin said.

The golden number of instruction hours a Missouri school district has to meet is 1,044.

“So if a school chooses to use their 36 hours of Alternative Methods of Instruction, and they continue to have to close their doors after those 36 hours are used, if they need those hours of instruction to reach 1,044, they will have to make up those hours at a later point in the school year,” McGowin said.

During the 2020-2021 school year, the Missouri State Board of Education allowed for the Alternative Methods of Instruction Extension, or AMI X. It allowed school districts to go virtual for an extended period of time — but that was rescinded in July 2021.

“We continue to monitor the situation,” McGowin said in a statement after interviewing with FOX4. “The emergency rule is not on the agenda for Tuesday’s regularly scheduled January board meeting.”

The next state BOE agenda meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 11.