CPS virtual classes begin Tuesday

1 week 4 days 11 hours ago Monday, September 07 2020 Sep 7, 2020 Monday, September 07, 2020 10:47:00 AM CDT September 07, 2020 in News
By: Stephanie Southey, KOMU 8 Digital Content Editor; Annabel Thorpe, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA- Columbia Public Schools is set to begin virtual learning Tuesday, after the Board of Education voted 6 to 1 to start the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year online. 

Students at the elementary level will attend online school five days a week, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m.

Middle and high school students will have daily classes that follow their normal class schedule. Wednesdays will be dedicated to meeting with teachers and supporting students. 

The decision to delay the start of school came after district administrators recommended a start date after Labor Day and Columbia's Board of Education voted on it on Aug. 10.

The district stated earlier this summer that if the rate of COVID-19 cases surpassed 50 per 10,000 residents, the district will be virtual this year. The rate on the district's 14-day tracker Monday was 87.9 per 10,000 people.

In a June survey, the majority of parents said they wanted their children to go back to in-person learning. In an interview with KOMU 8's Angie Bailey, Superintendent Dr. Peter Stiepleman said the situation with coronavirus cases has changed in our area ever since.

"Our data supported that in March, April, May and June. 80% of our families, myself included, I'm a parent of children in the public schools, we chose in-person as well," he said. "I wish we could have stayed there, but to ignore the case rate data, to ignore the positivity rate, to ignore the guidelines and the conversations that we have with our health department would have flown in the face of what our survey yielded."

In preparation for the virtual school year, many CPS parents ran into issues over the weekend helping their kids get ready for the school year.

“Particularly starting tomorrow, in that, for example, there's a lot of technology snafus happening," CPS parent Lara Wakefield said. "Kids didn't get their schedules in the middle school and high school until pretty late on Friday. So they didn't even know what to expect, what classes their children were going to have.”

There were more than 260 comments on a KOMU 8 Facebook post from parents, sharing how they were preparing for the first day of school. Many explained their frustrations about getting their kids iPads set up. 

"Everyone has to face a really difficult fact that our school district, along with all the school districts in the nation, have reached their emotional and technological and financial capacities," Wakefield said. "They really don't know what they're doing. And it's just going to be a school year of flying by the seat of their pants."

CPS responded to these concerns by releasing a iPad tutorial video and planning tech support events throughout the first week of school.

The board committed to focusing on the possibility of reopening at its upcoming board meetings. The next meeting is September 14.

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