Reopening Missouri schools will be up to districts and counties, not state

Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 6:14 PM CDT
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The return to the classroom in the fall will be up to individual counties and districts. There is no statewide order.

"District leaders we've spoken with, most parents we've spoken with are very eager to get kids back into school in the fall," said Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven.

Some schools have already outlined how to return to the classroom. The School of the Osage will have students in the building four days a week. One day is spent doing virtual learning at home.

"I think a lot of us would like for things to be normal. We would really like to take that added stress of that uncertainty away. I mean, we have to learn how to pivot," Vandeven said.

One way the state will be pivoting is by putting less of a focus on students having perfect attendance. That's because Vandeven says health and education leaders will want parents to keep their children home if they're sick, even with symptoms they may usually ignore.

"In the past we've seen lots of kids coming to school with runny noses and headaches and different kinds of things that today might be associated with the virus," Vandeven said.

Schools also have to figure out how to work with less money. The governor has already announced more than $130 million in cuts to education. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is expecting more.

"How do we minimize the interruption of learning if that should occur," Vandeven said.

Mallory McGowin, the Communications Coordinator for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said getting schools open is a big piece of the state's economic recovery.

"We know how important schools being open and parents being able to get back to work, so we're trying to think really thoughtfully on how we can do that in a safe way," McGowin said.