Parkway Considers Options for School Re-Opening


Students and staff begin wondering what school will look like in the Fall. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Koch

After nearly two months of E-learning, Parkway North, along with schools across the country, is winding down to end this year of learning and beginning to think about what next school year may look like. 

Missouri has 10,789 cases, and the Saint Louis area is one of the hardest hit areas in the state.

Saint Louis City and County account for around 52% of the state’s cases, making them the most impacted areas. 

Parkway North is currently scheduled to start school on Aug. 24. However, when and what the start of next school year looks like depends on local data. 

“Safety is a priority,” said superintendent Keith Marty. “We are gathering reports and resources from the CDC, health departments, and others who are providing guidelines on safely bringing students and educators back together.” 

“I personally desire to start school in August with as normal of schedule and structure as is safely possible,” Marty continued. “But we will need to have options and the ability to be flexible as we start and proceed through the school year.”

The Missouri School’s Board Association put out guidelines to assist school administrators reopen. Titled “Pandemic Recovery Considerations: Re-entry and Reopening of Schools,” the 96 page report is meant to give ideas to open safely. The report states that schools should close for three to five days if a case is reported in the school. This is to give time to clean and sanitize surfaces and materials. 

Some other suggestions include cancelling or reorganizing physical education, band, and choir to have smaller class sizes; giving students the choice of at home or in school learning; reorganizing classrooms to have desks separated and facing the same direction to avoid close, face to face interaction; cancelling or reorganizing extracurricular and after school activities and sports; or scheduling students to attend every other day to minimize the amount of students in the building at one time.

“I think that it makes sense for the extracurriculars to be closed; however, I personally would be very sad,” said freshman Parker Cole said. “I probably have more fun there than any other part of school.” 

The Missouri Department of Education voted on May 11 to allow Missouri schools leniency in determining the fall start date for the 2020 school year. This will allow the flexibility to close schools as needed throughout the year or accommodate alternating days without sacrificing so much instructional time. The vote was because of a state school ruling that decided that the school year could not start before Aug 24. 

“The health and safety of our students, families, and educators must be the primary driver of when it is safe to reopen school buildings in each community,” president of the National Education Association Lily Eskelsen Garċia said in a statement. “Bringing thousands of children together… is dangerous.”

While E-learning has been effective and has kept students up to date with learning, it is not the same as in school learning.

“I miss interacting with students in class, and I believe that real interaction is necessary at some point to fulfill curriculum goals,” said biology teacher Lorrie Crossett. “Science needs to have students interacting with lab materials, so I feel all science classes should have an in-class component.”

Many students agree, classes over a computer are not the same as being there in person. “I definitely learn better in person,” Cole said. 

The district will announce their plan for fall 2020 in mid-July.