Joplin considers recommendations to opening schools this fall

JOPLIN, Mo. -Lockers across the State of Missouri are empty and the halls are quiet, but with summer school approaching, and a fall date set for the start of a new year, many parents are hoping things can start slowly getting back to normal.

“I want the kids to be safe, so I do expect there will be some adjustments that have to be made, but I hope those can be ones that don’t really completely change the landscape of school for the kids,” said Tara Horinek, one Joplin mom.

Tara’s four children all miss being involved in theater and sports, but guidelines laid out by the Missouri School Boards’ Association are suggesting that a lot of those activities be put on hold.
It also gives ideas on alternating school days for different grade levels and reorganizing large classes for band or choir groups.

“In that document, they talk about social distancing, which we have all come to know, and when you look at square footage and capacities, not just in Joplin, but in any district across the state, some of that would not be possible to implement without huge building additions,” said Melinda Moss, Joplin Schools Superintendent.

All of the recommendations in the document are optional, meant to be more of a resource for schools than a rule book, and while some of the suggestions aren’t feasible, Moss says others are.

“There were a lot of good suggestions about good hygiene, maybe looking at do we serve lunches differently? Do we have less movement about in our building and more classroom based because the more that we can keep groups together throughout the day then if we did have a spike in cases what can we do to facilitate better contact tracing,” explained Moss.

There’s still a lot unknown about what the future will look like, but schools are learning to adapt. Tara just hopes her kids can get back to doing what they love with the people they miss.

“I think kids learn so much more at school than just the book learning by that interaction.”

The first day of school is set for Aug. 24, but as summer school approaches in just a few weeks, the district is looking for community feedback through a survey to help determine the best way to hold class.