Oakville and Mehlville high school students will return to four days in person starting March 9

An+Oakville+High+School+student+sews+during+class+as+students+returned+for+two+weeks+in+October-November+2020%2C+before+the+announcement+that+they+would+return+to+all-virtual+learning+until+January+2021.+

An Oakville High School student sews during class as students returned for two weeks in October-November 2020, before the announcement that they would return to all-virtual learning until January 2021.

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

Students at Oakville and Mehlville high schools will attend class in person four days a week starting in March, after almost a year of hybrid or virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mehlville School District Superintendent Chris Gaines said at the Mehlville Board of Education meeting Thursday that high school students will transition to “Plan C: Connected,” four days a week in person, starting Tuesday, March 9. Mondays will remain at-home learning days, with all students attending class in person Tuesdays through Fridays.

The district released a video Friday informing families of the change.

Students enrolled in Mehlville@Home, Mehlville’s 100-percent at-home learning program, will remain virtual.

The Monday off provides time for contact tracing after the weekend.

There will be no changes for middle school students, who are currently attending four days a week in person Tuesday through Friday, nor any changes with early childhood and elementary students, who are attending in-person class five days a week.

Starting March 9, in-person class at Oakville High and Mehlville High will start at 7:15 a.m. and dismiss at 2:10 p.m.

The 14-day sum of new COVID-19 cases in the ZIP codes Mehlville serves have fallen considerably, which paves the way to bring more students back in person, Gaines said in the video, pointing out additional data points like lower regional and county transmission rates, and low rates of transmission among school-age children.

Mehlville’s ZIP codes 63129 and 63128 had some of the highest case numbers in the region since July of last year.

High school students in the district had been attending class virtually since last March until students transitioned into a hybrid model of learning — two days of rotating, in-person classes with three days of virtual learning — at the start of the second semester in January. There was a brief two-week window in the fall where high school students transitioned to hybrid/blended learning, but the district quickly returned to 100-percent virtual learning due to staffing shortages from the virus.

The substitute fill rate became an essential data point at the start of 2021 in determining if classes can sustainably remain in person, and Gaines said in Friday’s video that the fill rate has remained steady.

“As we see a decline of the virus in the community, we see a lower spread, we see fewer cases in the school,” said Gaines. “We see quarantine numbers go down, which has helped our workforce sustainability.”

In addition to bringing back high school students for four days in person, the district will also begin to rent out its facilities on a limited basis beginning the week of March 1.

“Please be sure to wear those masks, socially distance as much as possible and wash your hands,” said Gaines.