After several weeks of thoughtful deliberation and collaboration, local government, public health, and school system officials have decided to allow for the re-entry into schools and in-school learning in the City of St. Louis later this summer and fall. The decision, which depends on the implementation of extensive public health precautions and safety protocols, has been made based upon evidence that in-school learning is essential to child and adolescent development.
A collaborative work group made up of representatives from public, charter and independent school systems in the City of St. Louis, along with representatives from Mayor Lyda Krewson’s Office and the City of St. Louis Department of Health have finalized guidance to assist in ensuring a safe and healthy environment for the re-entry into primary and secondary schools.
The re-entry guidance has been designed to ensure the implementation of standardized evidence-informed protocols necessary to protect the health of students, school staff, and the community at large.
Mayor Krewson is in full support of the decision of the collaborative. “Schools offer more than just reading, writing and arithmetic to students,” says Mayor Lyda Krewson. “The daily in-person learning environment at schools includes social, emotional, physical fitness, and nutritional support that remote learning may have difficulty providing.”
The City of St. Louis Department of Health is supporting returning to in school learning as long as certain health and safety measures are followed. “Evidence so far suggests that children and adolescents are less likely to have symptoms or severe disease from COVID-19 and children appear less likely to become infected or spread the virus,” says Dr. Fredrick L. Echols, Acting Director of the City of St. Louis Department of Health. “But a return to in school learning must include social distancing, face covering, facility cleaning and other health and safety protocols.”
“Our major challenge as we adjust operations to return to our schools will be how do stay as close as possible to the traditional learning environments that we all know, yet ensure we reduce the risks of our students, staff, and families becoming infected with or spreading COVID-19,” says Dr. Kevin R. Adams, Superintendent of City of St. Louis Public Schools. “The re-entry guidance has been created to aid us in meeting that challenge.”
“The guidance balances health and safety with the crucial need for an in-person school day,” says Jamie Driver, Executive Director of Independent Schools of St. Louis.
“The comprehensive nature of the guidance will be helpful for school administrators,” said Douglas P. Thaman, Executive Director of Missouri Charter Public School Association. “The guidelines cover numerous topics including infectious disease protocols, buses, classrooms, restrooms, lunchrooms, playgrounds, social distancing, face coverings, immunizations, sick students and school staff, and the cleaning and sanitizing of facilities.”
The intent of the guidance is to establish and maintain safe and healthy environments for students, school staff, and the community at large. It has been developed from scientific evidence available on July 5, 2020, and may change as additional information becomes available.