CLAYTON, Mo. – Hundreds of parents submitted comments for the St. Louis County Council to hear on Tuesday. The issue generating the large response involves recommendations from the St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s administration regarding students, student-athletes, and COVID-19.
Page has said recommendations to put some fall sports on hold have been made with safety in mind. He has said medical experts have helped the county form its guidelines. Page did not join Tuesday’s virtual council meeting because of a family event, according to his office.
Many comments read to the council took exception with Page’s assessment. One note read, “I see the emotional toll this takes on my children and I assure you that there are no numbers that make that okay. Children need socialization, they need school in person they need sports and other activities.”
A resolution introduced by 7th district councilman Mark Harder passed by a 4-3 vote Tuesday. The resolution encourages all public and private schools to allow all K-through-5 students to resume in-person classes and called on Page and the St. Louis County Department of Public Health to set clear targets for middle and high schools to do the same. The resolution also supported the resumption of all fall sports.
Harder said one possible benchmark could be infection rates. He said, “If an infection rate gets to certain percent that they know, well we’re going to close that school down,” He added, “If it drops very low, that will give them the go-ahead to open another school or another grade.”
Council Chair Lisa Clancy voted against the resolution. She said some private elementary schools in her district that brought students back into the classroom were forced to close and quarantine due to the spread of COVID-19.
“What’s most helpful for them right now is not a recommendation to open but more financial support to be able to do so with safe conditions for re-opening, as well as more stringent public health measures again to slow the spread of COVID,” said Clancy.
There was also an effort by Harder and Councilman Tim Fitch to pass an ordinance giving the council more oversight when it comes to health emergencies and emergency orders. The county counselor offered an opinion that the proposed ordinance would not have been enforceable. The effort failed by a 4-3 vote.