COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Columbia Board of Education voted for elementary students to return to virtual learning on Nov. 16. They will return to the classroom on Jan. 11.
Watch the replay of the discussion in the player below.
High school and middle school students will return to in-person learning on Jan. 19 for four days per week.
Columbia students who have been learning online will be able to continue virtual learning.
Helen Wade, board president, said the transition in either direction always comes with challenges.
"There is a consequence and a challenge to going all virtual. There is a consequence and a challenge to doing a hybrid model, and four days a week, it is a hybrid," she said.
The board discussed several topics around the impacts of the pandemic on students and teachers.
CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said the district has struggled to find substitute teachers willing to work when teachers have to quarantine or isolate. He said the district has around 228 eligible substitute teachers, but only 86 said they are willing to come into the classroom at this time.
Elementary-aged students had returned to the classroom, but seven elementary schools within the district have switched to online learning.
The board also discussed the fact that entire elementary school classrooms have had to quarantine after a student tests positive.
"As of October 21st, we had 47 staff quarantining. As of October 31st, we had 84 quarantining or isolating. As of November fourth we had 124 and on Saturday, November 7th we had 151, so an increase of 221% in less than one month," Stiepleman said.
Many parents came to the meeting to voice concerns about virtual learning. Some said students were failing classes and having trouble learning online.
Others came forward to say it was not safe for students to return to the classroom with COVID-19 rates spiking in Boone County.