After the school year ended with students out of the classroom amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia Public Schools has a plan to give families a choice on in-person or online education come fall.
The Columbia Board of Education met in-person Monday night at the Columbia Public Schools Administration building. The public was welcome to attend for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started, but the room capacity was be limited to 50 people.
Watch a playback of the meeting player below.
Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said the district will allow families to choose whether to have their student(s) to participate in the typical five-day week with in-person classes or to learn completely online.
Stiepleman said the Columbia/Boone County Health Department believes opening up for class will be ok come fall.
"As the summer progresses, I will continue to stay in contact with the Boone County Health Department and if our plan for the 2020-2021 school year needs to change, you all will be the first to know," Stiepleman said. "We will survey our families, and find out where we are."
More information about the plan is expected to come out on June 22nd, where families can get a look at how each option might look for students.
Attached to Monday's agenda is a survey done by the district asking what CPS should consider as it gets ready to open back up to students.
Over 4,500 people participated in the survey. Some of the top ideas presented were safety, equal opportunity for education and mental health of students.
Stiepleman said the data showed a large divide, half of the people wanting to stick with online classes, and the other half wanting to go back to traditional learning.
While the plan may change, Steipleman said they want to be conscious of all situations, such as those individuals they are high risk for a COVID-19 infection as well as those students that depend on meals at school.
The president of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association Kathy Steinhoff spoke at the meeting, asking the board to listen to the needs of the community.
"Casting a wide net for voices to guide our work, to prepare for the fall and for the future, will allow us to show that we are not just hearing but listening to the voices of our students and community," Steinhoff said
The board also discussed a revised schedule for the 2020-2021 school year, which includes a later end date.
The last day of classes would be June 7 instead of June 3. The schedule was previously approved by the board with the start date of August 25.
A spokes woman for the district said the calendar changes are to comply with new state law.
The April 14 and May 5 snow days were changed to June 4 and June 7 and the first day of summer school would be changed to June 8 with the last day on July 2.