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Columbia Public Schools online learning will have new structure compared to spring semester

Fredrick Douglas High School sign


Columbia Public Schools officials say parents should expect a schedule Tuesday for what classes will be like after the school board's decision to keep students out of school buildings during September.

CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said in a live interview Tuesday with ABC 17 News that the schedule will try to preserve some of the in-classroom experience in a new virtual learning environment.

"We are going to try to do a real regular day," Stiepleman said.

This will include a daily schedule with everything from the early meetings at the beginning of the day, to scheduled reading sessions, he said.

This will be vastly different from the online learning families experienced in the spring semester.

"In the spring, we made every effort to catch up kids who had been failing and then provide enrichment opportunities for kids online," Stiepleman said. "This has to be very different from that."

The system will have regular grading periods, regular teaching and regular instruction, he said.

Katie Ann Sipho, a CPS teacher, said the plan is to use Zoom and other internet platforms to make it easy for students to access assignments and ask for help.

"Last spring, students did a lot of busy work...This year, students will receive the same instruction as they would in class, just virtually."

There is an example schedule in the CPS re-opening plan.

To assist with online learning CPS will provide internet hot spots to families in the free and reduced-price lunch program and those without a reliable internet connection.

"However, we know that some just don't have enough in terms of its robustness or its ability," Stiepleman said. "We are looking at 450 families that have said they need it."

As of Tuesday, CPS is looking into who will receive hot spots for the school year. The district requested a total of 700 from the Boone County Commission.

The Columbia Board of Education decided to make learning online-only after more than three hours of discussion Monday. The vote was 6-1, with Blake Willoughby dissenting.

The board made the decision against the backdrop of a continued surge in COVID-19 cases in Boone County, powered in part by the college-age population. Health officials reported last week that 44.6 percent of those tested for COVID-19 in the week prior tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The University of Missouri added nine more active cases Tuesday for a total of 424.

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Zola Crowder

Zola Crowder joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in June 2020 after graduating from the University of Missouri with a broadcast journalism degree. Before reporting at ABC 17, Zola was a reporter at KOMU where she learned to cover politics, crime, education, economics and more.


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