An update on our return to school in August

An update on our return to school in August
Posted on 06/26/2020
Superintendent Dr. Chris GainesDr. Chris Gaines, Mehlville School District superintendent provides an update on our plans to return to school in the fall including information about the budget, work of our Return to School Committee and our new virtual school Mehlville@Home.

Our district budget remains sound
First, our budget is in good shape for now. During state and county stay-at-home orders, our economy slowed down significantly. As a result of a reduction in sales tax, the closure of casinos, and an extension of the tax deadline from April 15 to July 15, our revenue from state and local sources is less than what we anticipated it to be. Due to state budget shortfalls, we received less state funding in the month of June than we anticipated, and we are expecting a similar withholding in July. That said, our financial outlook remains positive. That’s because we’ve worked hard over the past few years to build up cash reserves. While we anticipate spending more than our revenue sources next year, our cash reserves will provide the cushion we need to weather this pandemic year without cutting any programs or services.

What will school look like in August?
I wish I could provide you with that answer today, but there remain too many unknowns to predict what school will look like on our first day, Aug. 25, 2020. Our Return to School Committee has been working since April to plan for a variety of scenarios. The committee has provided the framework of what instruction would look like if all students return to our buildings, if we have staggered attendance to allow for any social distancing requirements, or if it’s not safe to return to buildings and students engage in e-learning either temporarily or for an extended period of time. Currently, our principals are working on detailed operational plans to minimize risk of coronavirus infection. We will be sharing all of these plans with parents the week of July 20.

We have made a few decisions regarding our return to school that I can share with you today:
  • Our decisions will be based primarily on guidance from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.
  • Students will continue to take their Chromebooks home.
  • We will not be buying additional buses to allow for greater social distancing.
  • If we have to stagger our attendance so that only half of students will attend at any one time, we will not split attendance by morning and afternoon. Having half of our students attend in the morning while the other half attend in the afternoon presents transportation challenges and would not provide us enough time to thoroughly clean between attendance groups.
  • If we have to stagger attendance, family groups will be on the same schedule.
What’s next?
We have reached a point where in order to continue planning, we need more feedback from you. Please take a few minutes to complete our survey on return-to-school options and Mehlville@Home.

>> Take the survey.

We don’t know what the impact of COVID-19 will be in the fall, and guidance from public health officials changes frequently. However, I’m optimistic that by July 20, we will have a solid plan to educate our community's children in a continuing pandemic. Thank you to the teachers and administrators who are working throughout the summer to create these plans for robust learning and safe operations. Thank you for your patience and grace as we continue to work together for the safety of our community.

A new type of school: Mehlville@Home

Mehlville@Home Mehlville School District will open a virtual school in August 2020, called Mehlville@Home, for students in grades K-12. Students must enroll and commit to Mehlville@Home for at least one semester at a time. Mehlville School District teachers will provide engaging instruction and learning opportunities through this virtual school. Families at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 may choose this option for their student; however, we want to emphasize that this program is for any student who would like to enroll in Mehlville School District and learn in a virtual setting. We plan to continue to offer Mehlville@Home even after the pandemic is behind us.

Parent Information Sessions
Parents interested in learning more about Mehlville@Home can attend an information session on the evening of Tuesday, June 30.

6-7 p.m.: Elementary School Parent Information Session

7-8 p.m.: Middle School Parent Information Session

8-9 p.m.: High School Parent Information Session

These meetings will be conducted via Zoom, and can hold 300 attendees. "Seats" in the meeting will be provided on a first-come, first-served based depending on when you register. All meetings will be recorded and shared on the district website next week. Use the links above to register for an information session.

The Mehlville School District strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees, students or others on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sex including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity and other characteristics protected by law. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: contact Adam Smith at 314-467-5006 or [email protected].