JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday announced that all Missouri public and charter school buildings will remain closed through the remainder of the academic year for the 914,875 …
JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday announced that all Missouri public and charter school buildings will remain closed through the remainder of the academic year for the 914,875 students in 555 districts served by public education.
This recommendation was made to Gov. Parson by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and several school superintendents from rural and urban areas across the state.
“Continuing our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, I am ordering all public and charter schools to remain closed through the remainder of this academic year, with the exception of nutrition and child care outlined in our Stay Home Missouri Order,” Parson said.
School services are expected to continue through the last day of school in each school district as pre-established by the academic calendar approved by their local board of education. These continued services include alternative educational opportunities as well as providing much-needed meals to students who count on them.
DESE will issue additional guidance to Missouri school leaders in the near future. In conjunction with the Governor’s Office, DESE is continuing efforts to help local school leaders by removing barriers and waiving the necessary state statutes and regulations.
Several state statutes were waived as a result of this order:
• CPR and Heimlich Maneuver Training Statute: Section 170.310.1, RSMo: “For school year 2017-18 and each school year thereafter, upon graduation from high school, pupils in public schools and charter schools shall have received thirty minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation instruction and training in the proper performance of the Heimlich maneuver or other first aid for choking given any time during a pupil's four years of high school.”
• Missouri and U.S. Constitutions Statute: Section 170.011.3, RSMo: “No pupil shall receive a certificate of graduation from any public or private school other than private trade schools unless he or she has satisfactorily passed an examination on the provisions and principles of the Constitution of the United States and of the state of Missouri, and in American history, American institutions, and American civics.”
• Missouri Civics Education Initiative Statute: Sections 170.345.2 and 170.345.3, RSMo: “Any student entering the ninth grade after July 1, 2017, who is attending any public, charter, or private school, except private trade schools, as a condition of high school graduation shall pass an examination on the provisions and principles of American civics. The examination shall consist of one hundred questions similar to the one hundred questions used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that are administered to applicants for United States citizenship.”
Other statutes that have been waived or modified to extend deadlines otherwise set to expire at certain times.
• State Aid for Transportation of Pupils Statute: The miles driven by school buses that are delivering food and/or remote learning opportunities to students, and/or providing Wi-Fi near students’ homes, are allowable transportation costs (under the district’s emergency preparedness plan) and may now be reported as eligible route miles on the Application for State Transportation Aid. Amid COVID-19 school closures, schools are now taking school to Missouri students, instead of bringing students to school.
• Reading Assessments Statute: Grade 3 reading assessments, selected at the local level, are not part of the federal assessment waiver DESE applied for and received from the U.S. Department of Education. As is evident by the department’s focus on early learning and early literacy, DESE believes in the importance of these assessments; however, school closures make fulfilling this requirement unrealistic.
• Physical Fitness Assessments and Awards Statutes: “The department of elementary and secondary education shall develop and adopt rules relating to a physical fitness challenge for elementary, middle, and high school level students. The challenge shall include, but not be limited to, elements that address physical conditioning, flexibility, strength, and aerobic capacity and shall recognize individual, team, and school-wide performance.”
As a result of the governor’s order, the original reporting for Missouri fitness assessments, due in June, is waived. The commissioner’s fitness awards are also waived as school closures make fulfilling this requirement unrealistic.
• Certificated Teachers – Contract Notification for Re-Employment by April 15: “Each school board having one or more certificated employees as described in subsection 1 of this section under contract shall notify each such certificated employee in writing concerning his reemployment in his present staff position or lack thereof on or before the fifteenth day of April of the year in which the contract then in force expires. Failure on the part of a board to give the notice constitutes reemployment on the same terms and in the same staff position as those provided in the contract of the current fiscal year; and not later than the fifteenth day of May of the same year the board shall present a contract to each such certificated employee notified of reemployment by the district.”
The timelines in this statute are extended or waived for an additional 30 days each. Additional K-12 information and guidance can be found at dese.mo.gov/COVID19.