ST. LOUIS — On March 21, Governor Mike Parson ordered all classrooms in Missouri to remain closed through the end of the year as the number of coronavirus cases climbed.
Four months later, the St. Louis Department of Health released its reopening plan for schools in the fall.
"Our intent for when we were making these guidelines was to create a safe environment for staff and students," said Dr. Frederick Echols, the acting Director of the St. Louis Department of Health.
Echols said academic, public health and government leaders spent months mapping out the re-entry guidance for primary and secondary schools.
One of the key highlights is a mask requirement for staff and students in the fourth grade and above.
Social distancing will be more of a preventative measure and to help achieve that, class sizes will change and lunch times will be staggered.
"The guidelines reflect the Center For Disease Control's recommendations as well as some other standards of practice that are being implemented across the United States," Dr. Echols said.
Officials also say to help protect the health of students and staff each school district must have an infectious disease plan. At a minimum, maintain a three-foot radius around each student's desk in a classroom and conduct daily health and temperature screening for students and staff at the beginning of each school day.
While Dr. Echols gives the new guidelines two thumbs up, parents 5 On Your Side talked to have mixed emotions.
"I think the guidelines, as good as they look on paper, it's gonna be impossible to implement in reality," said one mom who has a preschooler and a third-grader in the school district. "Looking at the data and the coronavirus cases. I mean there's just being a continued increase in cases and I just feel that it's too soon to reopen schools."
"Me and my two kids are on the fence with it," another mom said. "We're nervous. I think we'll actually wait until next year before they return to school."