R-II Board Praised For Handling COVID-19 During Input Session

By ERIC X. VICCARO

[email protected]

The Ste. Genevieve R-II School District had a special public input session before its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 21, in the high school commons area.

The public input session featured plenty of positive comments on how the district has handled COVID-19 (coronavirus) guidelines since the pandemic swept the United States in March 2020.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education directed school districts to have a 2021-22 reopening plan on a website by last Wednesday.

The school district received three comments during this special input session, from Ward  1 Alderperson Susie Johnson – and a couple of parents, Jennifer Cox and Kyla Parker.

“We expect our plan to go through more updates and evolutions,” said Ste. Genevieve superintendent Dr. Julie Flieg before public input began.

Johnson was complimentary of the school district.

“I’ve been impressed with the district and its communication with parents,” Johnson said. “I signed up for text alerts. I like the measured approach you took, and I hope you keep doing the same (thing).”

Cox reported during her speech that she has two children in the district.

“I cannot tell you how well you handled 2019-20, and 2020-21,” said Cox, who moved back to this district during the 2019-2020 school year.

Cox said her children wore masks, and participated in the everyday live attendance model.

“I think these kids are resilient, more resilient than we give them credit for,” Cox said. “I want to thank the teachers. You all gave me peace of mind.”

The final comment was directed to the district via email from Parker, paraphrasing, saying she believes masks are a personal choice and that’s how it should be when students return in August.

Flieg said she received additional positive comments through talks and emails with parents and community leaders.

Board of education president David Bova said the district will follow whatever guidelines are given to them by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

Currently on the school district’s main website, browsers will find a specific link to “COVID-19.”

By clicking on the link, there’s an update center complete with recent changes as well as the initial 2021-22 reopening plan.

The CDC has directed school districts to make any adjustments to take into account local conditions as the year progresses. This includes possible future mitigation. The district reports it will periodically review and revise plans as needed.

Following current specifications, students will still need to wear face coverings when unable to socially distance six feet as well as while riding a bus.

Each school in the district has planned for the full student body to occupy lunch spaces, and additional configurations. Plexiglas barriers have been placed in classrooms and shared spaces.

The district reported it has expanded its Wi-fi capabilities, on each campus.

There is an “essential learners” tab complete with information on when a student will need to quarantine.

Anyone 12 years of age or older in Missouri is now eligible for vaccination. For additional information, log onto the website: www.covidvaccine.mo.gov.

The public input session lasted nine minutes, then the regular meeting took center stage. The complete reopening plan covers 35 pages.

According to data gleaned from the new-and-improved Ste. Genevieve County Health Department website, there are no active cases – with 288 total probable ones. There have been three confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 in the county.

Roughly one-third of the Ste. Genevieve County population has completed vaccination (30.8 percent), and a similar number for those who have initiated the process (33.7 percent).

According to the school district calendar, the first day of school has been approved for Monday, Aug. 23.