COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
As the start of the school year is quickly approaching teachers still have many questions about what the year will look like.
Kathy Steinhoff, President of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association said teachers still don't have answers to how their classrooms need to adapt for minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
Steinhoff said seating arrangements, mask enforcement, and what classes will look like whether it be in-person, online or hybrid are some of the frequently asked questions she has received from teachers.
Another question she's been asked if what happens if a teacher has to quarantine due to a student testing positive for the virus.
"So (if) I'm quarantining, as many of us teach multiple classes," Steinhoff said. "Then who teaches my other classes? "Will I have to use sick days, if I'm at home, and I still feel well enough to teach?”
Scott Clardy, Columbia/Boone County Health Department's assistant director said he recommends teachers to try to keep the students as far apart from each other as they possibly can and not within six feet of each other for more than 15 minutes.
Clardy said if students have to be close together at learning stations, those students should not be at that specific station for more than 15 minutes, then if a student tests positive the other children would not be considered close contact.
Clardy recommends teachers have assigned seats and to keep records of the seating charts, so it's easier to see who was potentially impacted.
"Perhaps it's not even the entire classroom," Clardy said. "It would just be the ones within six feet of an individual.”
Steinhoff said teachers are very concerned about the protocols that are in place if a students has symptoms but the student’s family chooses not to test them.
She said some people may question why a family would not test their child, but that some parents need to go to work and cannot stay home.
“If your child seems well enough to go back to school," Steinhoff said. "It really doesn't behoove them personally to do that, and so that is a concern of ours because it could really have a negative impact on our school community and our community at large."
The local health department recommends schools follow the same guidance they have been given, stay home if you are sick and have a plan in place for if your student becomes sick.
“Regardless of whether you have a stomachache or you think it's just allergies," Clardy said. "If you're sick right now the thing is you need to stay at home.”
Clardy said he realizes this may be difficult for parents to stay if they have to take off work then they don't get paid or could potentially even lose their jobs, but that the health department encourages people to as best they can to plan ahead.
"If you wake up in the morning," Clardy said. "And the child's not feeling well, what are you gonna do? Where are they gonna go?
Clardy said teachers should continuously have students wash their hands as it's been proven to minimize the impact of the virus from spreading.
As of now, the local health department does not have a set answer as to how many cases in a school until it would recommend schools to return strictly online or remote learning as the size of school districts in Boone County differ.