COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Columbia Public Schools teachers are working to get their classrooms ready for students again the day after a school board vote to open buildings to students next week.
The Columbia Board of Education voted Monday night for pre-K and elementary students to return to in-person learning four days a week and for middle and high school students to be online two days per week and in class two days per week. Middle and high school students have been online since last spring, while elementary students have learned online except for a short period in the fall.
Grant Elementary teacher Ariel Schwarting said teachers are working to switch their classrooms to fit in-person learning once again.
"My mind was just reeling about all of the things I need to get done in my classroom," she said. "I think a lot of teachers, especially if they are getting more students, are trying to reconfigure classrooms to make everything fit as safe as possible."
Teachers are also working to move their schedules around for in-person learning, which has a different schedule than when classes are all online.
CPS teacher Katie Ann Sipho said she expected teachers to be vaccinated against coronavirus before returning back to the classroom. Teachers are some of the essential workers listed in Phase 1B of the state's vaccination plan. Gov. Mike Parson said Monday that Phase 1B will start next week.
The school board on Monday also passed a resolution urging the state to add other school employees to Phase 1B.
The board's vote Monday to put students back in classrooms happened despite sustained high levels of coronavirus transmission in Boone County. However, case rates have fallen from their peak in November.
District elementary school students were allowed back into the classroom on Oct. 19, but were switched back to virtual learning in November as a fall surge in cases emerged.
"The uncertainty is hard, that's the one thing a lot of teachers, I think they wanted to stick with virtual because they knew what to expect -- there wasn't going to be a back and forth," Schwarting said.
Regardless of teachers' comfort level with the return, Schwarting said teachers are all ready to see their students.
"We are excited to bring them back in the classroom and we are going to do what we need to do to keep them safe and us safe," Schwarting said.