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Kirkwood superintendent asks school board to approve all-online start to school year

"Coming to this conclusion is heartbreaking. I want you to see our students in school, but only if we can assure our students and staff members' safety"

KIRKWOOD, Mo. — The superintendent for the Kirkwood School District is asking the school board to approve an all-online start to the school year.

In a letter to the school board, David Ulrich said recent data and new restrictions in St. Louis County forced him to rethink the idea of in-person classes. He asked the school board to approve an online-only plan for the first nine weeks of the school year.

"Based on the information shared by County Executive Sam Page today regarding reports on the coronavirus infection spread and the 25% capacity restriction on buildings to be implemented Friday, July 31, we have a new focus," Ulrich said.

In the letter, Ulrich said he understands that the best learning environment is in the classroom and coming to this decision was "heartbreaking", but he said the safety of students and staff members was more important.

Several other districts are planning to start the year 100% online, and the teachers union for Saint Louis Public Schools called for the same Monday morning.

RELATED: St. Louis teachers union calls for 100% virtual start to SLPS school year

RELATED: Another school district going all-in on virtual learning to start classes this fall

RELATED: Hazelwood school board votes to start year with 100% online classes

You can read the full letter below:

"I have consistently said, we want to be in school with students because that is where you do your best work, and our students thrive. We are within a four-week window from the start of school. The county is expecting the positive numbers of coronavirus to peak the weekend before school starts. To give you the maximum amount of time to prepare, during tonight's board work session, we will give our Board Members as much detail as possible about the All Students Online Learning Model. Tomorrow night, Tuesday, July 28, at 6:30 pm, we will hold a special board meeting where I will ask the board to approve my recommendation on the learning model for the start of the school year. Based on the information released today and the proximity of the start of the school year, my recommendation will be All Students Online Learning for the first nine weeks of school.

We will hold school-specific webinars for the rest of this week and next week to provide more details.

Coming to this conclusion is heartbreaking. I want you to see our students in school, but only if we can assure our students and staff members' safety. As a new member of the staff, I have witnessed the strength of this school community. We are One Kirkwood School Community, and we will emerge more resilient and stronger than ever.

Thank you,