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Rockwood School District considers 'gradual' return to classroom

The phased-in approach would begin with the district's youngest students

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The Rockwood School District is considering the gradual return to in-person instruction — starting with the district's youngest students.

During a school board meeting Thursday night, Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles recommended a phased-in approach by grade level, according to a news release from the district.

“While I would celebrate the opportunity to have all of our preK-12 students return to our classrooms simultaneously, I believe a gradual phase-in of students by grade level would be the safest and most appropriate course of action,” Miles said.

Students in preschool, kindergarten, first and second grades would be part of the first group of students to return to school building classrooms. Miles noted younger students have had more challenges using technology than older students.

If the transition of the younger students into the classroom is "successful," children in third, fourth and fifth grades would be part of the second phase. There is no timeline on when that could occur, Miles said.

Students would attend five full days of school per week, under this phased-in approach.

For Matt Skaggs, he's happy to hear this news for his children who attend Rockwood School District. 

He says, "They are very social kids, so with the isolation it's causing them issues to be focused."

He's been working with parents in the Rockwood District to have this option and even created a petition, that has over 4,000 signatures. 

But his efforts don't stop there.

Skaggs says he understands if some students want to do virtual, but he hopes other schools will consider the in person option, just like Rockwood did.

"I started the petition for not just Rockwood, but for St. Louis County. We just want our kids to go back if they want to go back," Skaggs said.

The district has not yet determined a date for when this process could begin. Already, teachers have started preparing their classrooms and curriculums.

“While I would like to begin as early as possible, hopefully in September, there is much work that needs to be accomplished,” Miles said.

The district has worked with St. Louis County health officials on developing protocol on how to handle COVID-19 cases among students and staff, which include contact tracing and notification. Miles said, depending on the number of cases, an individual, groups of students or an entire classroom may have to quarantine.

"With a larger outbreak, we'd have to close an entire school for a period of time," Miles said.

Students and staff returning to in-person school will practice health and safety measures, including social distancing, wearing face coverings and proper hygiene, Miles said.

All students will still have the option to continue class virtually.

RELATED: Rockwood School District changes plan to begin all-online

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