Mehlville, Lindbergh return most students to in person

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An Oakville Elementary student the first day of school.

By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

The Mehlville School District is bringing back the rest of elementary students and middle-school students to in-person learning, starting in two weeks. Lindbergh, which has already started all elementary students back, will bring back middle schoolers.

Both districts have virtual learning academies that 20 to 30 percent of students have signed up for, so not all students will return to in-person learning.

Mehlville started the year all-virtual, while Lindbergh started all-virtual except for K-3 in person. Mehlville brought back preschool and K-2 in person last week and will start third, fourth and fifth grades back to school starting Tuesday, Oct. 6, then bring middle schools back starting Thursday, Oct. 8. Lindbergh will start sixth-graders back Oct. 6, followed by the other middle-school grades each day that week.

All the students brought back by both districts will be in hybrid or blended learning, in which each class will be divided in parts with half the students attending one day, then half the other, for two total days in person each week per student. All students will also have one day of live virtual instruction.

The districts announced the plans after County Executive Sam Page said Sept. 23  that the county changed its recommendation on in-person schooling to recommend that middle schoolers can return to buildings, based on drops in county COVID-19 data. But positivity rates among ages 15-19 are still three times higher than younger students.

Lindbergh sixth graders will return to buildings Tuesday, Oct. 6 if they are in Group A based on their last names. Group B of sixth grade will return Wednesday, Oct. 7. Seventh graders will follow starting Thursday, Oct. 8, and finishing Friday, Oct. 9.

“We must work together as a fully engaged community of teachers, staff, students and families to ensure a successful start for all. Collectively, we can support a safe learning environment, and promote social-emotional wellbeing for our children and community,” Lindbergh Superintendent Tony Lake said to parents.

As outlined in the Sept. 24 edition of The Call, both districts are carefully monitoring COVID-19 data to gauge when students can return to classrooms safely.

“This decision is based on our continued monitoring of COVID-19 data in our school district and St. Louis County as a whole, and the successful re-entry of elementary students over the past several weeks,” Lake said. “Lindbergh Schools has been closely monitoring COVID-19 data on a daily basis, specifically the number of new cases per 100,000 individuals, transmission rate and positivity rate.”

Mehlville Superintendent Chris Gaines went into a deeper dive through every data point the district is examining in the start of a new YouTube video series, the district’s “Weekly COVID-19 Update.” Data is showing encouraging trends across the board, with the exception of average daily cases, which continue to spike up and down, and the 15-19 positivity rate.

Looking at the data, Gaines said, “Our transmission rate remains stable and positivity rates in the county continue on their downward trend. Additionally, data indicates fewer cases of COVID-19 in our children ages 0-14, compared with the rest of the population.”

At both districts, all students and staff have to wear masks at school and on the bus and complete a health screening before coming to school. The check is to ensure no one has experienced one of the following symptoms within the last 14 days:

A fever (100.4 or higher); sore throat; congestion/runny nose; headache; nausea/vomiting/diarrhea; body aches; cough; difficulty breathing; loss of taste/smell; or if they or a close contact has been diagnosed or presumptively diagnosed with COVID-19. Students and staff must stay home from school if they are sick, or if they answer “yes” to any of these items.