The Maryville R-II Board of Education gathered October 14 to decide what to do about virtual learning as the October 16 date of it ending was looming.

After over an hour of discussion involving board members and administration, the board voted 4 to 3 to continue the virtual learning until the Thanksgiving vacation. Members Josh McKim, Elaine Wilson and Frank Grispino were the dissenting votes.

There was some discussion about possible more in-school face-to-face time for the students with all acknowledging that is the best form of instruction. The number of quarantined students at the high school is expected to be 15 to 20 percent of the student population, 60 to 80, on October 14.

Some board members also questioned the quarantine process with conflicting science on the number of days needed and if both individuals are masked, whether it is necessary.

Superintendent Dr. Becky Albrecht and some of the board voiced their opinion to follow the lead organizations’ guidance. Those being the Nodaway County Health Department, Missouri Department of Secondary Education (DESE) and the Centers of Disease Control. Contact tracing dictates quarantine that an individual who was in contact at six feet or less and for 15 minutes or more with a positive COVID-19 case should be 14 days, while those who test positive are isolated for 10 days and when symptoms are gone. Both affect the student face-to-face population.

Albrecht shared the survey results taken by students, parents and staff concerning the current education process. Seventy percent of the students and stafff were in favor of the hybrid model while 52 percent of the parents voted for the hybrid way. She also reported six of the eight Midland Empire Conference schools are doing a hybrid model and according to DESE 75 percent of the state’s schools are hybrid.

High School Principal Thom Alvarez reported that one student had said to him, “Facing the possibility of quarantine means hybrid learning is the only answer.”

The board also directed the administration to change the off days and Fridays to heighten the educational experience. Alvarez shared two possible plans for Fridays. One was for students to continue with the yellow and green format in attendance every other Friday. The other was to have a better virtual experience allowing for either an appointment time for face-to-face instruction later in the day or time for virtual work with the teacher.

The board also asked the administration to relay to the teachers that the importance of a consistent education with lectures and homework is important.

Assistant Superintendent Steve Klotz shared the cost of outfitting a classroom for a stronger video instruction experience to be $1,500 to $2,000. It was suggested the county’s allocation of CARES Act funding could help with the cost.