Columbia Board of Education to decide whether students will return to classroom


Columbia Public Schools families and students are waiting to hear whether all students will return to the classroom or continue to learn online as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Students are currently scheduled to return to in-person learning on Jan. 19. However, that could change when the Columbia Board of Education meets Monday night.

WATCH LIVE: Watch the meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. in the player below.

The board last month pushed back in-person learning for elementary students from Jan. 11 to Jan. 19 so it could have a chance to look at the latest COVID-19 numbers after the holidays. Middle school and high school students are also slated to return to classrooms Jan. 19.

Monday’s meeting agenda does not state whether the board will vote on a hybrid method of learning, staying online, or returning completely to in-person learning, only that the board will have a chance to take action on the current plan to get students back into classes on Jan. 19.

School board members have not responded to requests for comment sent Sunday by ABC 17 News.

CPS middle school and high school students have been learning all-online since last spring, when the start of the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the school year. Elementary students returned to classrooms for a few weeks in the fall before the board voted to have them return to online learning amid a spike in coronavirus infections.

Boone County health authorities have reported nearly 14,000 cases of novel coronavirus since the pandemic started last March. Health officials report 61 county residents have died. The rate of new cases has decreased since its November peak but remains much higher than it was during the spring and summer.

Deaths have jumped during the latest surge, with most of Boone County’s fatal cases coming since the start of November.

CPS officials use several indicators to inform the decision of whether to return to classes. Among them is the number of cases per 10,000 people in the district’s boundaries over the last two weeks. That number stood at 83.3 on Wednesday. The district pegged 50 as a key level before the school year started, saying a rate higher than 50 suggests having classes online-only.

However, CPS leaders have repeatedly said that the case rate is just one of several factors influencing their decision.

Check back for more on this developing story or watch ABC 17 News at 9 and 10.

Boone / Columbia / Columbia Public Schools / Coronavirus / Education / K-12 education / Top Stories / Top Stories

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