Columbia Public Schools give students a choice for the 2020-21 school year

1 month 5 days 7 hours ago Monday, June 08 2020 Jun 8, 2020 Monday, June 08, 2020 9:16:00 PM CDT June 08, 2020 in News
By: Katie Athey and Avery Everett, KOMU 8 Digital Producers & Annabel Thorpe, KOMU 8 Reporter
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*A previous form of this story stated parents will be able to choose their option in July. The story has been updated to reflect the accurate information.*

COLUMBIA -- The Columbia Public School Board of Education presented their updated COVID-19 plan for the 2020-21 school year at a meeting Monday evening.

"We are going to offer families a choice," CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman  said. "They will have a choice of regular, 5 days a week, in-person learning. Or, they may do online learning."

The updated plan leaves families the choice of regular, 5 days a week, in-person learning, or online learning. 

According to a letter that was sent out to CPS families Monday, online learning for elementary education will be taught by CPS teachers using curriculum written and supported by the University of Missouri—called CPS Learning at Mizzou.

For secondary online learning, CPS teachers will teach the material virtually using CPS Online coursework.

CPS will continue to provide technology resources—such as hotspots—to students who need them to remain online.

"We'll make sure that if a child from a family that needs the resource will have the technology, and the wifi, and the support if they choose to do online at home," Stiepleman said. "But we also know that there are a number of families that rely on our schools."

If there is a school closure due to COVID-19, in-school courses for elementary and secondary education will move to online instruction performed by the in-person teacher.

Throughout the year, there will be certain checkpoints where students can transition from in-person learning to online.

"We're really trying to offer choice and flexibility," Stiepleman said.

CPS parents can expect to receive more information about the re-entry plan by June 22. Families will then choose their preferred option as well. 

While CPS will release more details about in-person learning and what that will look like in late June, the board provided an example of possible ideas for elementary in-person classes. The scenario described having students social distance in the classroom by assigned seating and having limited student interaction with assigned "stable groups."

Students in each stable group stay in their assigned classroom as much as possible. They'd possibly eat lunch in the classroom, use specific entrances, remain socially distant, and would not switch for classes.

Those stable groups would ideally help students minimize exposure and help to pinpoint which students have interacted and when if there would be a positive COVID-19 case at the school.

"As of June 8, this is our plan," Stiepleman said. "As the summer progresses, I will continue to stay in contact with the Boone County Health Department, and if our plan for the 2020-21 school year needs to change, you all will be the first to know."

Once parents/guardians chose either in-person or online instruction, the number of CPS teachers will be determined. 

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