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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Perhaps lost in Wednesday’s news of Dr. Sam Page’s announcement regarding fall sports, was the St. Louis County Health Department’s decision to allow schools to transition younger students back to school.

The county health department said that current COVID-19 trends support in-person learning for younger students.

The Lindbergh School District began the school year with a hybrid model for ages kindergarten through third grade. Next week, they will offer it to fourth- and fifth-graders as well.

“We just felt like consulting with our medical professionals, our parents who are in our district, and the health department, which is why we went ahead and started the school year,” said district superintendent Dr. Tony Lake. “We’re one of the few districts in county that did that.”

The county has never prohibited in-class learning. It gave recommendations. The county said it would work with schools doing so, as long as they offered an all-virtual option as well.

Lake said based on COVID-19 data, the virus acts differently with the younger students. He said they haven’t had any issues, making the district comfortable with allowing kids back at school.

“We wanted to give our families options,” he said. “They will start on (September 17). A week from today. That will give families a week or so to transition and get things worked out.”

Lake said there is no playbook for this. But being transparent and working with the county, parents, and medical experts, they are navigating their way through.

“We’re really looking at 10 to 14 age group now. Middle school age kids is what we have our eyes on now,” Lake said. “As the numbers creep down, we’re having conversations now. Just don’t know what that’s going to be. Making plans for that.”

The superintendent said it’s been refreshing to see younger kids in school learning and doing well despite having to wear face masks.