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Three quarters of Missouri students have in-person option

The Examiner

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Nearly three-quarters of public school students in Missouri have the option to attend classes in person this fall, according to data posted Tuesday by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Missouri’s 518 school districts and 36 public charter schools are taking varying approaches as they balance educational needs with the desire to protect students, teachers and staff from the coronavirus. The school year begins as Missouri is nearing 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. As of Tuesday, the state had reported 95,113 confirmed cases and 1,661 deaths.

The state education department website shows that the most common option provides for onsite learning but also allows students to opt out and attend classes virtually. Data shows that 40.3% of the state’s 878,627 public school students are in districts operating under that plan. DESE spokeswoman Mallory McGowin said it isn't yet known how many of those students are opting for virtual learning.

Another 22.5% of students attend schools that blend onsite and virtual learning, and 11.2% attend classes in person with no virtual option.

The remaining 26% of students are in schools with virtual-only classes. Most of those schools are in areas hit hard by the pandemic, mostly in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas but also in Columbia and a few rural districts.

The state is not yet tracking the number of K-12 students who have tested positive for COVID-19, but DESE and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services are working together to eventually capture that information, McGowin said.

– The Associated Press