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Ozark School District will have three learning choices this fall

Ozark, Mo. School District will be offering in-person, online and a hybrid option of both in the fall but as of now, will not require masks to be worn...just recommended.
Ozark, Mo. School District will be offering in-person, online and a hybrid option of both in the fall but as of now, will not require masks to be worn...just recommended.(Ozark School District)
Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 5:52 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Jamie Dopp is a mom of two teenagers who are about to enter their 8th and 10th grade years in Ozark’s public school system and this fall they’ll be able to choose from among three learning options when school starts on August 20.

Option 1: Attending in-class sessions at the schools

This is traditional learning in the classroom with safety measures in place from both state and federal guidelines. To minimize cross contamination groups of students will be kept with the same staff all day for elementary students and as much as possible for older students.

Option 2: Online classes

This is full-time online learning away from school and students will still be allowed to participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities. There will be various vendors to choose from.

Option 3: Hybrid

This is only available for 6th-12th grade students but offers a combination of in-person and online classes.

“It’s a kid’s dream if you think about it to get up and say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to go to school today!’” laughed Dopp as she talked about the interest in the ‘Hybrid’ combination. “But I still have a lot of questions that I need answered.

That’s why the the district is encouraging families to meet with school counselors before they make their decision.

“We’re willing to discuss those with anybody so we can really find the educational setting that’s best for their family,” said Ozark School Superintendent Dr. Chris Bauman.

”These are discussions that our family’s taking seriously,” Dopp said. “You don’t want to put your child’s health at risk for education but education is very important too.”

Dopp says her family hasn’t made a decision yet but that last spring’s stay-at-home semester taught them a lot about how much their children missed interacting with others.

“The social impact of not being at school has had an impact on both of their mental well-being,” Dopp said.

And as parents who both work, it also took a toll on their mental well-being.

“It was a challenge because when we get home at six we were helping our children with their work until 11 or 12 o’clock at night,” Dopp explained. “That’s not a sustainable way to learn or sustainable way to live for any families.”

But Dopp admits that Ozark’s decision for now to recommend but not require masks in school could play a critical part in the family’s decision.

“Masks have been proven to protect people,” she said. “So if you’re not requiring it that does make me feel a little more nervous about the in-school option.”

Bauman pointed out that the school is choosing recommending masks over requiring them in hopes that the community will cooperate with Christian County’s recent plea for all citizens to voluntarily wear face coverings to slow the virus’ spread.

But as the county’s numbers continue to climb, Bauman said a change in policy could still happen.

“Yes, I absolutely would consider a mask mandate,” he said.

Bauman also explained that masking might be mandated if it’s determined that social distancing can’t be maintained in the school buildings and buses.

“Social distancing is really going to be an issue and masking will be our first line of social defense,” he said.

Among the other major changes?

As much as possible, students will be kept from sharing art supplies and other educational tools, breakfast will be grab-and-go meals taken to the classroom, meals in the lunchroom will see tables configured so that students don’t face each other and there will be increased time between lunches to allow for extra sanitizing.

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