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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Some Jackson County high school seniors are now getting a chance to return to the classroom full-time. Independence Schools believe what’s happening in the district could serve as encouragement to districts across the metro.

Inside Truman High School, small groups of students are able to sit spread apart. Even busy hallways are not crowded. That’s because the district split its middle and high schoolers in two groups, with half of students attending in-person on alternating weeks.   

“The school year is actually going exceptionally well,” said ISD Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl.  

The district’s been keeping close watch on COVID-19 cases within schools and updating families with this online tracker. Since school started in August, there have been fewer than 10 positive cases at a time, and none have been traced back to spread within the schools. With masks and distancing a big focus, the district now feels comfortable allowing high school seniors the chance to return full-time.  

“When you look at the group we can bring in most easily and safely, it’s our seniors because typically they only have two required classes their senior year, government and English four, usually and because of that, they have so many electives, we can more easily spread them out throughout the school,” Dr. Herl said.  

William Chrisman junior Evan Neubauer isn’t sure bringing seniors back is a good idea. She says her in-class time’s been great, but virtual learning days feel less organized. Evan is concerned having more students face-to-face won’t help.

“I think hybrid schedule right now we’re all in so much chaos and before we can try to get back to normal, think we should try to fix, or get settled into the hybrid schedule and what we’re doing now,” Neubauer said.   

Others think a slow shift to having all students back in classrooms is doable. Crystal Campbell has a senior at William Chrisman and is thrilled her daughter can return full-time and believes the district’s doing a good job at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“I think they’re going above and beyond. I’m very confident they’ll keep my kids safe,” Campbell said.

So far, about 150 high school seniors across the district have opted to return.  The district expects that number could double before Friday’s deadline. The switchover to bring those seniors who chose full-time learning will happen October 5th.