Local school district establishing criteria to reopen in fall

One health services director says politics could complicate already complicated situation.

Brian Kelly
May 14, 2020 - 3:46 pm

    ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - While President Donald Trump and U.S. Coronavirus Task Force leader Dr. Anthony Fauci disagree over the reopening of schools in the fall, local districts are establishing their own criteria.

    For example, the Parkway School District is considering three options, based on community spread of coronavirus at the time: Full open if there is no community spread, open with social distancing and smaller groups if there is mild to moderate community spread, and remaining closed if there is still substantial community spread. 

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    District Health Services Director Robin Wallin tells KMOX, currently, we're in the third category. She anticipates we'll be in the second category in August.

    She says they hope to have a plan in place for August, by mid-to-late July.

    "We would be able to communicate to our staff and families what we anticipate our plan would be moving forward," Wallin says. "With the understanding, because we're in a pandemic, that we may need to have some flexibility to move between those different levels if our public health situation changes in the middle of the school year, for example."

    Wallin says while stay-at-home orders would obviously impact the decision, the final call will be based solely on health considerations.

    "Foremost on our minds is the health and safety of our staff and students," Wallin says. "We are not going to make a decision that we feel puts the safety of our staff or students in jeopardy."

    Related: St. Louis Children's Hospital sees some COVID patients with symptoms of rare inflammatory disease

    She says they are counting on federal, state and local health agencies for guidance.

    As for the political wrangling that's putting schools in the middle of the debate over reopening the economy, Wallis says, "This is a very complicated situation. It's something that we as educators have never had to deal with before, for that matter none of us have had to deal with it. So, it is really hard and we are relying on our public health experts to be that unbiased guide for us as we make decisions that affect the health and safety of our communities." 

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