JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Jefferson City School District superintendent expressed confidence for in-person learning to the Board of Education, as cases climb in Cole County.
The board heard updated updates from the superintendent, chief learning officer, and CFO at its meeting on Monday at the Miller Performing Arts Center.
Superintendent Larry Linthacum told the board while they monitor cases in the district and Cole County every day, they are confident with the safety of their students and staff.
"We fundamentally still believe that the best environment for a student is to be in school," Linthacum said.
On Monday, the district reported 21 new cases of the virus, 13 of which are in staff. In addition, 22 people within the district were asked to quarantine after being deemed a close contact.
To date, the district has reported 310 cases of COVID-19 in students and staff, with 451 people coming into contact within the district asked the quarantine.
Cole County has seen a steady spike of cases, with numbers breaking triple digits Wednesday through Friday. In total, the county has reported 3,927 cases of COVID-19, with 23 deaths. The health department reported 539 people were in isolation with the virus.
According to data from the Cole County Health Department, 17 percent of the cases before Thursday were under 20 years old. the largest age group of cases is 20-39-year-olds, with 32 percent of cases. The 40-59 age group comes in just under 31 percent.
The Jefferson City City School District has had to transition it's middle schools online in October because of staffing concerns. Right now, all schools are back to in-person learning.
Linthacum said staffing concerns continue to be an issue, and the district continues to work with DESE on having enough substitute teachers.
"The challenge is if someone is quarantined outside of their school, we have a challenge there to provide a quality teacher for our classroom," Linthacum said.
As cases go up, the number of students participating in virtual learning is going down. According to the Chief of Learning Shelby Scarbrough said there are now 939 students enrolled in Launch, which has gone down about 450 since the beginning of the year.
"Through the work of our counselors, administrators and staff, engaging with families to decide where is the best place for your children," Scarbrough said.
Scarbrough said it would not be financially possibly to keep using Launch moving forward. Now, the district is looking at creating it's own virtual model.
"We are taking a lot of tips and tricks from our own teachers... what other districts are doing and just finding our own way to put our own program together," Scarbrough said.
The goal for the virtual option is the next school year.