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Parents, superintendent react to Republic School District back-to-school plan

Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 5:49 PM CDT
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REPUBLIC, Mo. (KY3) -

Masks will be common in many Republic classrooms this fall, but not all of them.The District rolled out its back-to -school policy this week and there are different rules depending on how old your child is.

Right now, the school district plans to require everyone 12 years of age and older to wear a mask while they’re inside of a building. According to the outlined three phase plan, the mask requirement includes all sixth grade students, too.

“We’re taking the measures that we are so we can have seated school for a continuous amount of time, hopefully and we’ll see if that holds true, we hope that it does and we can get through this stronger on the other side,” said District Superintendent Dr. Matt Pearce.

The district developed its health-related protocols in conjunction with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pearce said the masking age requirements were created based off of information they received from the health department.

Parent Aaron Powell tells KY3 sending his three kids back to school during a pandemic brings some anxiety.

“There’s always going to be nervousness, you know I am nervous to see what’s going on because it’s still going on, it’s still increasing.” Powell said.

His kids will be heading to kindergarten, second, and sixth grades.

“There’s a couple of areas where we felt like with the current pandemic we needed to make some adjustments,” Pearce said. “That could be a crowded classroom, that could be a crowded hallway, that could be a crowded school bus and in those areas it’s not real possible to distance too much so building in the safety area of having a facial cover of a mask takes away the nervousness and builds a layer of protection.”

Pearce said he understands the nerves, but wants parents to know they are confident in their plans.

”We’ve had kids under our care since March in our STRIPES program and since then we have not had a positive case there,” he said.

“The district doesn’t require masks for anyone under the age of 12 in its buildings, but everyone who rides the bus to school needs one.

”We want to make sure that our bus drivers are safe,” Pearce said. ‘Even though they are students and it might not be as much with that age group, we want to protect them as much as possible.“

Younger students are still encouraged to wear a mask to school throughout the district.

”We are planning to have the younger [kids] wear one just for safety purposes,” Powell said.

Another parent, James Stephenson said the pandemic helped him and his wife make the decision to home school their younger children. With this new plan, the school district is also allowing students to choose between virtual or in-person.

”My oldest is going to stay in school, and I really appreciate the idea of a mask,” Stephenson said. “It’s really, really hard for all of the teachers and just the administrators and everything to do what they’ve done and come up with the plans that they have and I can’t tell you how thankful I am.” “

The school district has three different protocols planned out. Parents can choose to send their students to school in-person, or arrange for hybrid or online learning. If the district needs to move forward to phase two, that protocol calls for a hybrid learning model.

“Hybrid learning is if they want to take a virtual class and a seated class,” Pearce said. “If we go to phase two of our plan that is really going to look more like an alternating day schedule so we can reduce the overall numbers of students that are on the bus, in the hallways and in the classrooms.”

Phase three would be virtual learning.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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