COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A COVID-19 case rate tracked by Columbia Public Schools jumped well above the threshold at which all-online learning is considered as Boone County reported a new record.
The number of cases per 10,000 people in the Columbia Public Schools boundaries over the past two weeks reached 65.5 on Thursday after the county reported a record 222 new cases. The rate was at 54.2 on Wednesday.
CPS also announced Thursday that another elementary school -- West Boulevard Elementary -- will go online starting Friday. Alpha Hart Lewis and Derby Ridge elementary schools went back online Thursday because of the large number of staff in quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus. Like other elementary schools in the city, they started the year remotely Sept. 8 but opened their classrooms back up on Oct. 19.
The schools join another elementary -- Ridgeway -- in remote learning because of COVID-19 exposures. Preschool classrooms at the Center for Early Learning-North are also closed temporarily because of virus exposures.
Kathy Steinhoff, president of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association, said the increase in cases means schools should be going back to virtual learning. Some community members have been pushing the school board for middle and high school students to join elementary students in going back to the classroom.
CPS administrators set 50 as a case rate benchmark before the school year began, with a rate above that number favoring all-online learning. Superintendent Peter Stiepleman has said repeatedly that the rate is one of many numbers he considers when making a recommendation about in-person learning to the school board.
The Columbia Board of Education will meet Monday but it is uncertain if members will discuss sending all CPS students back to online learning. ABC 17 News left messages with each school board member Thursday but had not heard back from any by late afternoon.
The CPS COVID-19 dashboard reported Thursday that 90 teachers are quarantined and 24 are positive for novel coronavirus.
The district has reported six new teachers in quarantine and one new positive between Wednesday and Thursday.