ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Younger students in St. Louis County could soon return to in-person learning, the county announced Wednesday.
County Executive Sam Page said the St. Louis County Department of Public Health is adjusting the recommendation for schools that would allow them to consider transitioning elementary school students back to the classroom.
“St. Louis County is not mandating that they do this, nor are we setting the criteria for them to do so,” Page said. “But we are pointing out that the data currently supports an option for in-person learning for these younger students.”
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Page stressed the changes would only affect elementary students. Virtual learning would remain the main recommendation for middle school and high school students. The rise in cases among older children remains a concern.
According to the county’s COVID-19 data, there’s been a steady increase in cases among those 15-19 years old. The rate of new cases in this age group is nearly five times the average rate of new cases among younger children, Page said.
The positivity rate for the 15-19 age group is the highest of all age groups at 20%, while the positivity rate for the 5-9 age group is 6%.
Page also said 90% of the coronavirus cases that have been affecting schools over the last two weeks involve middle and high schools.
“We'll work with our partners to protect and support these students and plan for their eventual transition back to in-person learning as soon as the data supports it," Page said. "It is our shared goal to get there safely."
The county said individual school districts will be considering their next steps and asked families to be patient with the process.
“School district leaders have significant factors to consider and plan for to determine if and when they'll return to in-person education for elementary students,” Page said.
Also on Wednesday, St. Louis County announced changes to youth sports guidelines that allow some younger players participating in certain sports to resume games and competitions.