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'Probably the hardest decision that we've had to make' | Why some St. Louis districts are holding off on coronavirus decision

Some school districts say they want the most up-to-date information to make a safe decision

AFFTON, Mo. — At Affton High School, the electronic board outside blinks a message to students: "we miss you."  

Inside, crews are setting up classrooms with spaced out desks, though it's still unclear how many days per week any given student will in them.

"We can really impress upon people we want to get this right, but we have got to hear from you this week. This is the week," Superintendent Travis Bracht said. 

Bracht said Affton is holding off on announcing finalized school schedules — while many other districts announced their plans Monday — because they wanted the most up-to-date COVID-19 data as the totals continue to shift. And now they also have the advantage of knowing what other districts are doing.

"I think that helps because I think it really has narrowed the conversation," Bracht said.

Kirkwood School District stakeholders got this message from Superintendent David Ulrich Monday: 

"Please know, you are not going to leave this video with the plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Based on the current trends of coronavirus cases, St. Louis County Department of Public Health has asked school districts to hold off on announcing a specific plan."

At Lafayette Preparatory Academy, Susan Marino said they're looking at coronavirus data and another issue: clarification from the education department on attendance reporting, which could factor into how they schedule school.

"We've already surveyed our constituents, but we put another one out today," Maplewood Richmond Heights' assistant superintendent Roxanna Mechem said.

Mechem said they're still collecting information as they finalize plans, but being flexible is key.

"I've been in education thirty years. This is probably the hardest decision that we've had to make or at least the hardest conditions that I've had to work under and trying to make a decision," Mechem said.

Contact reporter Sara Machi on Facebook and Twitter.

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