CPS parents plan to rally against in-person classes, CPS Board plans to address parents concerns

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COLUMBIA - As school is set to resume in a few weeks, some parents are concerned with the safety of sending kids back to in-person classes. Columbia Public School parents and families are rallying in front of the CPS administration building Tuesday afternoon to voice their thoughts on in-person classes. 

The "Not Until It's Safe Rally" is presenting a list of demands to CPS administrators before the special board meeting at 4:30 p.m. The formal meeting will discuss more detailed re-opening plans for Columbia Public Schools as well as addressing some parent and community concerns. 

There will also be a parent rally supporting in-person learning on Tuesday.

The list of demands states CPS to start the school year virtually and to only re-open in-person learning when there is less than 5% community transmission and no new cases of COVID-19 for 14 consecutive days in Boone County. 

CPS parent and alumnus Amanda Atkins explained how parents like herself feel it is unsafe to send kids back to in-person classes. 

"We want to meet up and show decision makers at Columbia Public Schools that were they to choose to push back the in seat instruction they would have a lot of community support," Atkins said. "We just feel that it's not safe at this point and w shouldn't be putting our students and our teachers in a position where they could potentially be infected with COVID." 

Participants at the "Not Until It's Safe" rally are expected to peacefully and silently protest. Wearing masks and social distancing are also required.

No action plans are on the agenda for the special meeting Tuesday, meaning no vote or final decision about any re-opening plans will be made. CPS Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark explained CPS administration and board members are prepared to update the re-opening plans and make changes as the pandemic progresses. 

"We've received a lot of feedback and input from the community and parents and the point that we're at now is really driven by community input," Baumstark said. "Now I think as we continue to gather more information as we look at what those COVID numbers mean and how we implement learning, we need to have these discussions with our community."

While the meeting is open to the public, COVID-19 restrictions only allow 50 people to attend the meeting in person. Those unable to attend the meeting can watch the livestream online at CPS-TV

[Editor's note: KOMU 8 has updated this story to reflect there will be a rally in support of in-person learning as well as the rally in opposition.]