School board affirms '20-'21 re-entry plan

Ray Scherer


The Gasconade County R-1 (Hermann) Board of Education on Thursday approved a re-entry plan for the district's students in the 2020-'21 academic year, in light of concerns spawned by the coronavirus.


Superintendent Dr. Scott Smith told the Advertiser-Courier the board's decision to enact the plan was unanimous. The school year is scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 24, he said. Details of the plan are due to be released this week to the Hermann community at large, he added.


"We're trying to cover everything" in the district's operations through the comprehensive plan, said Smith, with all educational and extracurricular programs taken into account.


The plan is derived from district discussions with its staff, parents, and the community. Guidelines presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were reviewed and will be followed, along with recommendations from other organizations and with the community's needs in mind.


"We worked very closely with our (Gasconade County) health department," Smith said. "We're excited to have students returning to school."


Those students who formally express a preference to not participate in the in-person classes will have the option of taking their coursework online. Parents will be asked to contact their child's building administrator by Aug. 7 to indicate those intentions.


Smith said Hermann educators have also been participating in an area-wide consultation with other districts on the matter of reopening to students for the new school year, with the discussions focusing on the best practices given the pandemic's continued presence.


"It's been very beneficial, I believe, for everyone," he said of talks among the districts. Most other schools surrounding Hermann will have until the end of the month to decide on their path for the new year, he added.


"It's going to be a working document," he said of Hermann's plan, simply because of the prospect of changing recommendations related to COVID-19. "We'll be making adjustments as we need to."


The plan will lay out specifics, such as what steps -- self-screening and quarantining, for instance -- that families will have to take in the event of a positive coronavirus case.


The district cancelled the remainder of its spring classes in March, after the virus began spreading across Missouri, and finished the 2019-'20 year without a physical return to the classroom. Students completed their studies online via virtual learning programs, and all athletic programs were disrupted. Hermann began a summer session last week that will conclude July 31.