In person or online? Some metro school districts giving students a choice this fall

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — We’re getting a glimpse of what the return to school will look like next month for some metro students.

Both Blue Springs and Independence school districts will give parents and students the option of either in-person or online classes.

Kids at Burrus Old Mill Park were carefree on Wednesday, splashing in the spray pad on a hot summer day.

But soon, the sprinklers will be traded for school bells. 

Cami McKee’s two younger sisters will be headed back to elementary and high school in Blue Springs.

“My mom is a nurse, so she is pretty nervous about all that but knows if we keep our masks on and make sure we social distance and do all those things, we will be OK,” said Cami, who just graduated from high school.

Grace McKee will be a sophomore and said although she liked working at her own pace when classes went online back in March, she and her eight-year-old sister Brielle missed the social interaction.

“I think I might go back to school because I missed it and felt like I was doing better in school having the teacher tell you what to do,” Grace said.

Colleen Plattner has three middle schoolers in Blue Springs. She served on the district’s return to school task force and is thrilled families will be able to choose whether continuing online school or if returning in-person will be best for them.

Her kids will have a test run starting next week when Blue Springs welcomes students for in-person summer school.

“That’ll be good, with a much smaller enrollment. I think it’ll be a good indicator to see what happens during the school day,” Plattner said.

And although she’s nervous about kids being in close quarters again, with the threat of COVID-19 still very real, she’s confident in the safety measures Blue Springs is planning to keep kids and staff safe.

As a precaution, Blue Springs School District says students will need to wear masks during classroom transitions and on the bus. They won’t be required in the classroom, unless Jackson County extends its public mask mandate.

Students and staff will also be subjected to routine wellness and temperature checks and will be asked to clean hands regularly.

“The kids missed out on so much last year, but we’ve kind of put it behind us,” Plattner said. “It’s OK to be be sad or even mad. But I hope as we get back, in a year or six months from now, we can look back and say, ‘Wow. I can’t believe we got through it.'”

Parents in the Blue Springs District have until July 17 to decide if they’ll send kids to school online or in-person. Those who choose in-person can switch to online later if needed, but students can’t switch to in-person if they start with virtual learning.

For students in Independence, the district is planning to require face masks inside school buildings and on buses with the exception of recess and P.E. 

Like Blue Springs, the district will utilize temperature checks, classroom doors will be left open and meals will be delivered to and eaten in classrooms. 

Independence families need to register by July 24 for in-person or online classes. 

You can learn more about the Blue Springs’ plan here and Independence’s plan here

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