Steelville schools will offer in-person and virtual learning when classes resume

    The Steelville School District released its preliminary reopening plans to parents at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The district has planned for numerous learning options and will be opening the year with both in-person and virtual learning opportunities for students.

    Superintendent Mike Whittaker released the following information, noting that detailed plans will follow on August 1:
    Steelville School District Stakeholders: The following information will provide you with some basic information about our options for starting school in the fall. We will have four (4) models that may be utilized throughout the year, depending on the spread of COVID-19. The models move from a least restrictive to most restrictive school environment. We are prepared to move from model to model, as needed, throughout the year. AS OF NOW, OUR PLAN IS TO START THE YEAR IN MODEL 2.
    MODEL 1 - IN-PERSON LEARNING - This model will be used when the risk of spreadingCOVID-19 is very low or non-existent. All students will attend classes on campus.
    MODEL 2 - IN-PERSON LEARNING WITH VIRTUAL OPTION - This model will be used when the risk of spreading COVID-19 is a possible concern or unknown. AS OF NOW, OUR PLAN IS TO
START THE YEAR IN MODEL 2. All students will be allowed to attend classes on campus for in-person learning. The District will also offer the option of learning virtually by enrolling in Cardinal Academy, our new online school taught by our teachers.
    MODEL 3 - BLENDED LEARNING - This model will be used when we see increases in COVID-19 in our area and/or there is an increased need for social distancing. Students will attend school in person on select days (elementary students would likely attend more days than MS or HS) and virtually on other days. Students enrolled in Cardinal Academy will continue with full-time online learning.
    MODEL 4 - ONLINE LEARNING - This model will be used when we see significant increases in COVID-19 cases in our area and in-person learning is not an option. All students will learn online using Cardinal Academy.

    Steelville School District Stakeholders: We know there are a lot of questions in our community about the REOPENING PLAN for school. We are working hard to finalize all of our plans so we can release the specific details by August 1, 2020. In the meantime, we will occasionally provide you with the answers to questions that we are frequently asked.
    Question 1: In addition to the different models the school is planning for, what other changes will we see as we start the new school year?
    We are in the process of finalizing our protocols at this time. Students and parents will see changes in many of our old procedures. There will be new procedures for riding a bus, dropping off and picking up students, entering buildings, and how classrooms are arranged. In addition, cleaning and disinfecting will be completed in high traffic areas more regularly.
We still have a lot of work to complete as we prepare for the school year. Other considerations include the following:
    • Public Health - What requirements will we have to follow?
    • Academics/Daily Routines - How will each building function?
    • Special Education - How can we better meet the needs of our special education students?
    • Operations - This includes athletics, safety and security, food services, facilities, transportation, and technology.
    • Health Services - Develop procedures to follow when we have someone identified with COVID-19.
    • Staff Training - What do staff members need training in before school starts?
    Question 2: How will virtual learning work?
    Our virtual learning platform will be called Cardinal Academy. The Steelville School District believes that in-person learning is the best way for most students to learn. However, in response to COVID-19, we do understand the need to provide a virtual learning option for some of our families. During our school closure in the spring, we experimented with some online learning and quickly realized that we needed to develop a better plan moving forward. In order to better serve our students, the district hired a technology coach who will be the driving force behind our use of technology, in both the classroom and virtual settings. In addition, we have purchased a Chromebook or tablet for every student in the district. These courses will be taught by Steelville staff members and will be aligned with the in-person model for learning. The courses will have the same curriculum, assignments, and assessments as the in-person model. Elementary students will be expected to follow a specific schedule each day, as presented by the teacher. Middle school and high school students will sign-in to class at the same time they would normally be attending their originally scheduled in-person class. The deadline for signing up for Cardinal Academy will be August 10, 2020 (registration procedures will be announced ASAP).
    Question 3: I have received information in the mail from companies offering a free on-line public education. Can you explain this option?
    A few years ago the Missouri legislature approved a virtual learning option for students throughout Missouri. This is managed through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and is known as MOCAP. This does require an application process and there are some qualifications that have to be met to qualify for these courses. In some cases, this may be the best option for a student. Patrons of the Steelville School District should know that these courses are not free as they are often advertised. The Steelville School District pays for the cost for these courses which are approximately $6500 per student per year. Several school districts throughout the state have partnered with companies outside our state to create these courses and programs. Instead of local tax money going to the local school district, it is going to those other school districts in our state and those companies outside of our state. Depending on the number of students enrolling in such programs, this could be very costly for the school district. I believe the Steelville School District has established a quality plan for our virtual platform, Cardinal Academy. I believe our program will meet the needs of our students needing to learn online. The deadline for signing up for MOCAP will be August 10, 2020 (email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information).
    Question 4: Will masks be required for students and/or staff?
    At this time, a decision regarding the wearing of masks has not been made. We continue to research and discuss daily. We will make an announcement as a decision is made.