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Parkway school board votes to extend mask requirement through Feb. 18

The board voted 7-0 to extend the policy through Feb. 18.
Credit: Parkway School District

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The Parkway school board voted Thursday night to extend the district's mask requirement through Feb. 18.

In a Thursday night meeting, the board voted 7-0 to extend the policy. It is the second time in the last few months that the board has voted to extend the mask requirement.

On Dec. 17, the Parkway school board decided unanimously that students and staff needed to be wearing their masks until Jan. 17, with the board re-evaluating the policy in January.

A recent spike in cases has made the decision more complicated.

The adjustments to the district's COVID policy the board will review and vote on are, firstly, that masks continue to be required until Feb. 18. The board said that date is subject to change depending on each school’s numbers and what the district’s community COVID numbers look like.

Another proposal calls for the board to meet again to go over the latest COVID data on Jan. 19 and Feb. 16.

Student cases have spiked in January, and the same goes for staff. On Thursday, the district reported 736 students and 131 staff members with active COVID infections. There are more than 17,000 students in the Parkway School District according to the most recent count.

This has created some serious staffing issues for schools. Last week, about 20% of teachers in the district were absent on one day. About half of those classrooms had to be covered by school leaders and support staff.

In a message to parents and students Wednesday, Superintendent Kieth Marty said the district was "starting to see some improvement with less staff out sick and more substitutes available to cover classrooms," and they continue to monitor the COVID situation.