ST. LOUIS — As students return from winter break, several school districts in the St. Louis area are changing their COVID-19 policies due to a rise in cases across the community.
On Monday, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced the number of cases and the positivity rate in the county was “the worst it’s ever been in the pandemic.”
The county health department reported a seven-day rolling average of 1,696 new cases per day and 23.2% positivity rate.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force also reported a record number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals. The number surpassed the 1,000 mark for the first time Tuesday. It was the latest record-breaking number as the omicron variant continues to surge through the St. Louis area following the holidays.
As COVID-19 cases surge, schools in the St. Louis area and Metro East have temporarily modified some of their policies.
Here is a full list of schools across the area making changes:
Students in the Belleville Township High School District 201 will move to remote learning Tuesday, Jan. 4 through Friday, Jan. 7. The plan will be re-evaluated over the weekend.
School district officials said they had to make the change because of too much staffing and teacher absences.
Preschool through 12th grade students in the Brooklyn Unit School District 188 started class on Monday, Jan. 3 via remote learning and will do so for two weeks.
Due to the high COVID-19 positivity rates over the winter break in the area, the Cahokia Unit School District No. 187 started school remotely on Tuesday, Jan. 4.
The district plans to return to full in-person learning on Tuesday, Jan. 18 but said that may change based on COVID data.
The district announced it will move to an "adaptive pause" for Jan. 11, 12 and 13, meaning students will go to remote learning led by their teachers. Teachers will be in the building and use available equipment to deliver lessons.
The district will also provide curbside pick-up for bagged meals for students that need them.
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East St. Louis
Students in the East St. Louis School District began remote learning on Jan. 4.
On Jan. 13, the district said it is extending remote learning through Friday, Jan. 28 due to the “overwhelming demand for community COVID-19 testing and high rate of positive cases.”
Students will return to in-person learning on Jan. 31.
Sixth through 12th graders in the Edwardsville School District went back to online learning this week. School officials said they are going to take this week to monitor things.
Edwardsville said the surge in COVID-19 cases has left them with not enough teachers to serve their students.
"We have a lot of staff that is out right now with COVID or in quarantine and we will not be able to provide adequate services for students,” said Mary Ann Mitchell, communications coordinator for Edwardsville School District.
Kindergarten through fifth grade students, FLS and CASTLE students will still attend classes in-person.
The Ferguson-Florissant School District is requiring masks until further notice.
Granite City School District #9 announced Wednesday a return to virtual learning beginning Jan. 7.
Students will have the day off on Thursday, Jan. 6 so staff members can finalize their plans. Then, remote learning is scheduled for two weeks from Jan. 7-21. The plan is to return to in-person learning on Jan. 24.
Food distribution will begin Jan. 7 and will be available at the following six locations: Coolidge, Grigsby, GCHS, Lake, Mitchell and Prather.
The school district previously announced a temporary change to its policy for athletic events. Spectators, including parents, are not allowed to attend home games at Granite City High School and Coolidge Junior High School. The school said livestreams will be available on the NFHS Network or Facebook.
The Hazelwood School District is requiring masks until further notice.
Last week, the Kirkwood School District announced it would require masks at all schools in the district when students return to classes after winter break.
The district said rising cases and hospitalizations were part of the decision to go back to requiring masks.
Previously, the school board voted to adopt a mask recommended environment.
When students and staff in the Lindbergh School District return for the second semester on Wednesday, Jan. 5, they will be required to wear masks.
The district said it will extend universal masking until at least Wednesday, Jan. 19. School officials will review building data on Jan. 19 to determine if individual K-12 buildings can move to a mask-optional plan.
Due to staffing shortages related to COVID-19 and quarantines, the Mascoutah School District 19 suspended school on Jan. 6 and 7. Those days will be made up at the end of the year.
The district plans to return to in-person learning on Jan. 10 with a modified schedule for the week.
Masks will continue to be required for all students, staff and visitors in the Parkway School District until Jan. 17.
At its Jan. 13 meeting, the school board will vote to decide if Parkway will move to a mask recommended environment. If the board votes to approve it, masks would be recommended, not required, beginning Jan. 18.
The district said the decision will be based on conditions in each school and in the community and CDC guidelines.
Saint Louis Public Schools
Bryan Hill Elementary and Ashland Elementary will temporarily shift to virtual learning until Jan. 7. The district said this is an “isolated change” due to the number of staff impacted by COVID-19 quarantines.
All other Saint Louis Public Schools will continue holding in-person classes.
The district started the spring semester with the same masking guidelines from the beginning of the pandemic.
"If you're in one of our buildings, you're wearing a mask," said George Sells with Saint Louis Public Schools. "Teacher, student, volunteer, visitor, anybody else."
Out of an abundance of caution, no spectators will be allowed at games through Jan. 23.
In an announcement Thursday, SLPS said it is currently waiting on the latest rounds of COVID testing for players and coaches returning from tournaments over winter break.
Games will be posted to the district’s website.
St. John Vianney High School delayed the start of its spring semester and plans to have students learn virtually during the first week.
Sapna Jos, director of communications for the school, told 5 On Your Side the start of classes has been delayed until Jan. 5 and classes will be virtual from Jan. 5-7.
Jos said the school will evaluate at the end of the week whether students should return to in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 10.