The union representing St. Louis public school teachers – AFT St. Louis, Local 420 – is praising the decision by St. Louis Public Schools administrators to delay reopening middle and high schools to in-person, brick and mortar instruction until after Winter Break.
“We wholeheartedly agree with the Board of Education and the St. Louis Public Schools decision today,” said Local 420 interim President Ray Cummings. “It is important for Labor, the district and the health department to all present a united front on COVID issues.”
Officials with SLPS said the CDC has put out new guidelines for the holidays, prompting the district’s decision.
Some middle-school students were scheduled to return to in-person classes this past Monday, Nov. 9, and some high school students were set to return later this month, but those plans are now on hold.
“We looked forward to welcoming back our middle and high schoolers, however our decision is based on advice from medical experts and ongoing review of data,” the district wrote in an email.
Officials said the decision won’t affect any current in-person teaching in elementary schools or schools for students with specific needs.
Rising area COVID-19 infections are forcing some schools that have returned to in-person learning to make adjustments.
Parkway School District Superintendent Keith Marty said more than 300 students and 80 teachers and staff members were in quarantine last week due to possible exposure to coronavirus. Of the district’s 23 elementary and middle schools, 22 have reported at least one positive case.
Parkway transitioned its elementary and middle-school students to a hybrid model in the last few weeks — with groups of students alternating between learning in person and at home, but with 42 confirmed positive student cases and 16 positive teacher cases, Marty said having enough teachers on hand could prove challenging, as substitutes are in short supply.
A shortage of teachers has forced the Crystal City School District to shut down in-person learning for two weeks.
“We just didn’t have the people to replace all the staff,” Crystal City Superintendent Matt Holdinghausen said.
Nearly 400 students in the Crystal City district, or 80 percent of the student body, had been attending in person four days a week since August. But two teachers tested positive last week, along with one student, forcing the district to shutter school buildings until mid-November.
The Fox C-6 School District in Arnold had 26 students and 28 staff members isolated due to lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 tests last week, and 387 students and 75 staff members in quarantine due to exposure to a positive COVID-19 case, prompting the district to move to 100 percent distant learning for this week, with the hope of returning to hybrid instruction on Nov. 16.
With a large number of students and staff members currently in quarantine, Fox Superintendent Dr. Nisha Patel said maintaining appropriate staffing is a major concern.