CPS to discuss COVID-19 preparation at Board of Education meeting tonight

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools shared a plan for a COVID-19, or coronavirus, outbreak in the event that it happens at a meeting Monday night.

CPS Superintendent Dr. Peter Stiepleman said a plan has been in the works for awhile. 

The discussions at the meeting included online learning and the amount of hours students could miss.

The district believes online classes would be a great alternative, but parents would need to provide some oversight at home.

Michelle Baumstark, Community Relations Director for CPS, said that with help, CPS will be adequately prepared for an outbreak. The spokesperson also said that communication between the district and parents has been good so far.

Baumstark said that the schools are ready in case of an outbreak. 

"I think one of the things that we're able to do, as a school district and as a community, is certainly lean on our government agencies that that are also kind of working together to be able to plan and prepare for this," Baumstark said. "We are following it very closely. We're monitoring all of the information coming out. And to make sure that our plan is still going to be the best plan possible should we be impacted here in Columbia."

The presentation will include a pandemic plan, which the schools are working with nine other organizations to create, including the City of Columbia, Boone County, the University of Missouri, University Healthcare, Boone County Fire Department, City of Columbia Fire Department, Columbia Police Department, City/County Health Department and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

There will also be a discussion at the meeting regarding online learning in case of a widespread epidemic in Columbia, as well as the amount of school days that the school may miss during a school year. This is one of the changes to their preparation following the first presumptive positive case that occurred in Missouri this past weekend. 

"What we can do from a prevention measure will continue down that pathway," Baumstark said. "We did just receive some additional direction from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. There is legislation as it relates to alternative instruction methodology. And so that would be if you were to have to close for any emergency purpose, the amount of hours that would be forgiven from the state or providing it as an alternative method of instruction."