Republic School District returning to seated classes beginning Thursday

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 1:20 PM CST
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REPUBLIC, Mo. (KY3) - The Republic School District announced students will return to seated classes Thursday after two weeks of virtual learning.

About two weeks ago, nearly 60 staff members and 600 students in the Republic School District were either positive for the coronavirus or in quarantine. Now, the superintendent said, those numbers are more manageable.

“Seated school is what’s best for children, but we’re also balancing this pandemic piece and the health and safety of students and staff,” said Dr. Matt Pearce.

Pearce, Superintendent for the Republic School District, said decisions have been difficult.

“The reason being is that there’s no precedent. You can’t look back and say, how did we make this decision a year ago or eighteen months ago? You really have to gather input from many different sources,” he said.

One of those choices came two weeks ago, when the entire district temporarily moved to all online learning. Pearce said there were too many staff members either infected with coronavirus, or in quarantine.

“Really, when it comes down to being able to have school, do you have people you can put in classrooms,” he said.

At the time, the answer was no, and finding enough substitutes was a struggle. Now, Pearce said, more than half of those who were out are back.

“With our students, particularly our elementary-age students, we haven’t seen as many cases as we have say, in middle school or high school. Really, for the last three weeks, we’ve seen more positives among our staff than our children,” he said.

One major change will come for those elementary students when they go back to the classroom. Kindergarten through third graders will now be required to wear masks with the rest of the student body and staff. Pearce said that’s to allow for modified quarantine if a child is exposed at school.

“In that, if there is a positive student in a classroom, we don’t have to quarantine the entire classroom, if everybody is appropriately masked,” he said.

Dr. Pearce said parents have been patient throughout the entire decision-making process and he hopes that will continue.

“Everybody needs to be flexible, because no one knows what this year’s going to bring us,” he said.

The district moved to Phase 3, virtual learning, of its plan on November 20. The district then reported several cases of COVID-19 among teachers, staff and students. In a statement to KY3 News, the district noted a drop in cases of the virus.

“Reviewing the information available to us at this time, the number of employees and students currently in quarantine or isolation has dropped back down to a manageable level for us to be able to return to phase 1/seated school on Thursday, December 3. Although we look forward to the day when these numbers are at zero, they are currently at the level we saw back in early September when we were able to successfully be in phase 1. We are absolutely aware of the fluidity of this situation and continue to monitor these numbers very carefully. As we stated at the beginning of the year, please ensure you have back-up childcare plans in place just in case we would need to move to a different phase again on short notice.”

The district reminds its asking all students in the K-12 schools to wear a mask to school. Per the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, the use of shields must be minimized and a double-layered gator (folded) must be used. These new rules have been put in place in order for the district to participate in modified quarantine procedures implemented by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. Click HERE for more on the schools procedures.

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