Park Hill School District doesn’t view Gov. Parson’s plan as an immediate or safe solution to staffing issues

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RIVERSIDE, Mo. — The Park Hill School District’s superintendent said the stress level of staff and parents shot up following the news conference given by the Missouri Governor Mike Parson Thursday morning.

During the Park Hill School District’s November board of education meeting Superintendent Dr. Jeanette Cowherd said the district is choosing to stay the course following CDC guidelines in the face of rising case numbers in the region.

Cowherd also expressed disappointment in how Parson decided to roll out his new school quarantine guidelines without input from districts like Park Hill.

“Where I am today – and as we know with COVID a week seems like a month and a month seems like year and things keep changing – I will be honest, I was frankly a little disappointed that we did not get any heads up that this was coming. Just a ‘This is going to be on the governor’s Facebook post this morning at 9 am’,” Cowherd said.

The governor’s announcement felt somewhat off-the-radar for the school board which discussed keeping the district operational.

Park Hill has about 200 substitutes and all of them working, according to district administration.

Even with that help, 70% of needed teaching vacancies are being filled. Governor Parson’s plan to allowing mask-wearing individuals who would otherwise be in quarantine did appear to be an immediate convincing solution for administrators and board members at the Park Hill School District.

“My recommendation right now and the direction I want to take is I just want to stay the course cause I just found out about this less than 12 hours ago,” Cowherd said of the Parson plan.

The question on people’s minds is will the district go full virtual learning?

The superintendent used this metaphor: “The wheels on the cart are wobbly but still moving forward.”

But that is with teachers doing extra work – teaching during prep times amid growing fears about how the strain may affect the quality of classroom instruction.

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