Return to School FAQs

  • The topics listed below represent the common questions we received following the original release of our 2020-21 Return-to-School Guidelines and Procedures.  If you have any further questions, please contact the school that your child will attend in the fall of 2020.


    Thank you for your questions and your patience as we work through this together.


    (Updated 09/21/20)


    Table of Contents


    Layers of Protection

    • In order to have the option to bring all of students back to school in the fall, the district is mandating the following layers of protection:

      1. Face coverings: wearing masks.

      2. Personal hygiene: thorough hand washing and sanitizing frequently throughout the day

      3. Cleaning of facilities: more frequent cleaning of high use/traffic areas throughout the day

      4. Cohort grouping: keeping elementary students in their classroom groups throughout the day

      5. Social distancing: Spacing students at least 3 feet apart in the classroom.

    • The health experts consistently maintain that, when you cannot social distance in that manner, wear a mask for the best protection from the virus.  We will spread out within the classrooms at 3 feet apart. 

    Virtual Learning

    What will virtual learning look like?

    • Regardless of grade level, the district will provide devices for any student who needs one. If there are multiple students in one family, each student will be assigned a device. Procedures for picking up these devices will be communicated at a later date.


    • There will be virtual learning teachers assigned to each grade level. These teachers will not have regular classroom teaching assignments.
    • There will be set class times each day in which the grade level will meet in the online classroom.
    • Subjects taught will include reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies and social-emotional learning.
    • Encore activities - art, music, PE and technology/innovation - will be provided for families to do at their own pace.
    • Regardless of home school, all students in a given grade level will be assigned to the same virtual classroom. 

    Middle School

    • One English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies teacher per grade level will have a virtual class in their teaching schedule.
    • Regardless of team, all students in a given grade level will be assigned to the same virtual classes.
    • There will be a set time each day in which the grade level will meet for each content area.
    • PE will be offered although there will not be daily synchronous instruction.  Lessons will be provided and teachers will be available via email and Google classroom to provide support.
    • If your student is assigned to an advanced math class, we can accommodate that either with one of our teachers or through the Springfield School District’s online program, Launch.
    • Launch courses are written by Missouri teachers and aligned to Missouri standards so they are equivalent to the courses offered in Smithville.
    • The instructor assigned through Launch is a Missouri certified teacher.

    High School 

    • The high school has been offering online classes for several years and we have several partnerships that will allow us to offer most classes. Some specialty courses may not be available, however.
    • Virtual teaching assignments will first be offered to our teaching staff who will be paid a stipend for taking on this additional responsibility.  If necessary, we will partner with the Springfield School District’s Launch program to provide classes.
      • Launch courses are written by Missouri teachers and aligned to Missouri standards so they are equivalent to the courses offered in Smithville.
      • The instructor assigned through Launch is a Missouri certified teacher.
    • Class times will be set by each instructor and may take place during the regular school day or after the school day.
    • We will be able to offer most Advanced Placement classes or an equivalent college dual credit class.
    • An abbreviated schedule to keep students on track for graduation will be considered as eight classes in a virtual setting is difficult.


    How many hours and subjects will be expected each day in the virtual classroom?

    • That will depend on the grade level of the student.
    • In addition to the instruction and interaction with teachers and online classmates, students will have independent work that will need to be completed each day.

    If we choose virtual learning, can our student still participate in activities and athletics?

    • Any student in good academic standing will be able to participate in athletics and/or activities.
    • Students in homeschool programs that are not a part of our virtual program are not eligible to participate in activities and athletics per MSHSAA.

    Will virtual learning be an option for the entire school year?

    • Yes.

    If we choose virtual learning, are we locked in for the entire school year?

    • No, students may transition back to in-person instruction at semester if you choose.

    Why is virtual learning locked in for a full semester rather than by quarter?

    • At semester, all students in a grade level will have mastered or been introduced to the same standards but, due to variety in lessons or the needs of the class, that is often not the case at quarter.  To ensure a smooth transition for students from one environment to the other, semester is the best transition point.
    • For our staff who are adjusting to a new normal under COVID-19, semester is also the best time to transition students back in to the in-person program.

    If we choose virtual learning for first semester and then transition back to in-person learning, will our student have the same teacher?

    • At the secondary level, that is possible but not guaranteed.
    • At the elementary level, the student would have a new teacher in their home school. 

    If my child tests positive for COVID, could we transfer into virtual learning?

    • Initially, we would keep the student assigned to their in-person classroom and continue to provide instruction like we currently do if a student has a prolonged illness and absence from school.  
    • If the situation warranted, due to excessive absence from school, we could consider a transition to virtual learning but that will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

    Can we switch to virtual learning after the July 31 deadline?

    • In order to appropriately staff the program, we need to know how many students will participate.  
    • We will consider all requests after the July 31 deadline but cannot guarantee participation.

    Will there be a school supply list for virtual learning?

    • Materials needed for lessons would be provided through Google Classroom or made available to families from the home school.
    • Devices, if needed, will be provided by the district.
    • Any additional supplies needed will be communicated by the virtual teacher prior to the start of school.

    Will virtual learners participate in standardized testing?  If so, how will that work?

    • In the spring, the state requires that all students in grades 3-8 participate in MAP Grade Level testing.  At the high school level, the state requires that all students in Algebra I (Algebra II if Algebra I was taken at the middle school level), English Language Arts II, Biology and Civics/AP US Government and Politics participate in the MAP End-of-Course exams.  If your student is learning virtually when MAP testing occurs, they will come to the district to take these assessments.  Specific arrangements for testing will be made in the spring.
    • Although not a standardized test, the district also administers the NWEA assessments in grades K-10.  It is our understanding that these tests can be administered from home starting this fall.  More detailed information will be provided at the beginning of the school year.
    • Additional assessments such as the NNAT-3 and CogAT which are used to screen for gifted and special services are administered periodically throughout the year and will be available to any students choosing to learn virtually.

    Will virtual learners have the same school calendar?

    • Yes.

    Could we switch to virtual learning at the beginning of second semester if cases have not subsided by then?

    • Yes.

    Will online learning be the exact same content their in-person peers are doing or will it be equal to state standards but not necessarily exactly what the in-person students are doing? Will grading/assignments be the same as face-to-face?

    • The same standards and learning targets will be addressed but possibly in a different format that is better suited to virtual learning. 
    • Grading and assignments may be similar but they will not necessarily be identical.

    If virtual learning is chosen, how will attendance be counted? 

    • Students are expected to log in with their class and participate in the daily instruction as much as possible.
    • Participation in the classroom meetings will be important for learning and parents will be contacted if students are not participating on a regular basis.

    For families choosing the virtual option, is this something we can do with our kids after work? Will they have to log on at a certain time? 

    • Instruction will take place at a specific time in most cases, especially for students in grades K-8. It would be best to log in at that time. If this is an issue, we will try to come to a solution once the teachers are hired.
    • There will be independent work each day as well which can be done when it works best for the family.

    What happens when the whole school gets shut down again and goes virtual? Will those that have already been doing the virtual program integrate with the rest of the students or continue to be separate?

    • In the event of an extended absence, the in-person program and virtual program would remain separate.
    • In-person teachers are preparing this summer to continue new learning via Google Classroom if we have an extended absence.  The expectation is that learning would continue whereas last spring we focused primarily on applying content already learned.

    With classrooms in session, will virtual learning get full support?

    • We know this is an important option for many of our families. The virtual program will be fully supported with staff and resources.

    Will there be an option for a few days per week in-person and the remaining days virtual?

    • The programs will be separate because in many cases, the virtual instructors will not be teaching in-person as well.
    • Families need to choose one or the other.

    Will a math teacher be assigned to teach my child’s sociology class?

    • No.  Even in a virtual learning environment, the teacher must be properly certified to teach the course to which they are assigned.
    • Any of our Smithville teachers who are assigned virtual classes will be appropriately certified.
    • Any of our online partners will also have appropriate certifications for the classes our students take with them.


    Virtual Students Attending In-Person Class Exceptions

    Virtual Students Attending In-Person Class Exceptions

    • We are allowing virtual students to participate in MSHSAA sponsored activities.  High school choir, band and debate are MSHSAA sponsored activities so virtual students may attend these classes in person if they wish to participate.
    • Virtual students may also attend in-person school for A+ so they may acquire the necessary hours to qualify for the A+ scholarship.
    • These are the only exceptions in which a virtual student may attend an in-person class.


    Virtual Students in Northland CAPS and Northland Career Center

    Virtual Students in Northland CAPS and Northland Career Center

    • A virtual high school student may participate in in-person classes through Northland CAPS and Northland Career Center.
    • Northland CAPS and Northland Career Center plan to communicate details of their programs directly to families the week of July 27.


    Special Services

    For any student with an IEP who chooses virtual learning, the district will need to convene the IEP team and amend the IEP.


    I have children who receive speech services at their school. Would they be allowed to go to school for speech only?

    The Speech Language Pathologist will work with the family to schedule a specific time during the week at the student’s home school for speech and/or language services or virtual services will be provided.

    I have a child with Autism. He spends part of his day in the self contained Autism room and the other part in the regular education room. What accommodations will be available if he is not able to comply with the mask requirement? Virtual Learning is not an option for us, so he will need to be on campus.

    • Teachers may provide brief “mask breaks” during the day provided that the student is physically distanced from peers such as standing in the classroom doorway.  
    • Students will be given reminders if needed. 
    •  When outside for class or recess and during classes such as music, band and PE, students will be able to remove masks when the learning activity warrants it.  During these times, special attention will be given to physical distancing, positioning of students within the classroom and additional cleaning of equipment and hand washing/sanitizing.
    • Students can remove masks when eating.

    How will reading support and IEP student minutes be met since elementary classrooms are social distancing by isolating within their regular education classroom?

    • Students will go to the special education classroom to receive services.
    • These are small groups and will still minimize contact with other students.

    What about children with disabilities and their IEPs with virtual learning? Will in-home services be available?

    • No.  Students will receive services at school by appointment.



    Gifted Services

    How will QUEST look for elementary students?

    • The elementary class sizes are small enough that social distancing of at least 3 feet can be practiced in the QUEST classrooms.  Students will be seated in closest proximity to students from their home school and all other safety precautions will be practiced.
    • Social distancing on the buses from Horizon and Eagle Heights can easily be accomplished with the low numbers of students on the buses.



    Health & Related Issues

    The district is taking guidance regarding how to address symptoms from the infectious disease team at Children’s Mercy Hospital.  As they update their guidance based upon new information, we will adjust accordingly. We expect an update later this week.


    If an individual student is out of school for 10-14 days due to a COVID-19 exposure, what measures are available to help keep the student(s) up to date on school work so that they do not fall behind?

    • We will address this situation like we have always done in the event of an extended illness, the classroom teacher will provide lessons via Google Classroom to keep the student engaged in class work.  Teachers will be available to answer questions and provide assistance during plan times or before or after school.

    What is the protocol if a student exhibits COVID-19 symptoms?

    Is a daily screening necessary?

    • For clarification, daily health screenings will take place at home not at school.  Parents need to keep students home if they are exhibiting COVID symptoms.
    • Staff will refer students to the nurse if they notice visible signs of COVID symptoms while in school but daily temperature checks will not be done for all students.

    What if your child has severe allergies and is stuffed up or has the sniffles due to that?

    • We understand that the symptoms of COVID mimic symptoms of other common afflictions but we are going to err on the side of caution until directed to do otherwise by health care professionals.
    • With the symptoms described above, the student would need to consult their physician who will determine if further testing is required or if they can return to school.

    So does my child need to be tested for COVID every time they have a fever?

    • No.  If fever is the only symptom, the student should stay home until fever free without the aid of medication for at least 24 hours.
    • This is no different than our practices in the past.

    If a student is suspected of having Covid are their siblings also required to go home/ quarantine etc?

    • This is addressed on page 16 of the re-entry plan.  Anyone who lives in the same home with someone who has tested positive will be sent home to quarantine for at least 14 days.
    • If a student is a contact of an individual who has tested positive for COVID but has not tested positive themselves, only the contact will quarantine.  The siblings of the contact will monitor symptoms and will quarantine if symptoms develop or if their sibling also tests positive.

    Just want to make sure I am reading the procedure correctly for what will happen if any student comes into context with someone who has tested positive for covid whether at school or out of school. Any staff or students who comes in contact or was in contact with a Covid positive person must quarantine for 14 days? 

    • A close contact of an individual who has tested positive for COVID would need to quarantine for 14 days.  A close contact is defined on page 16 of the re-entry plan as “an individual who was within 3-6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes”.  Just because a student was in  a classroom with a COVID positive individual does not mean they will have to quarantine.  Students will be assigned seats and movement in the classroom will be purposefully limited so that those who potentially could be contacts are also limited.

    I have a child who is asthmatic.  Do I need to have a doctor’s note to enroll her in the in-person program?

    • No.  Please consult with your doctor and make the choice for learning that makes the most sense for you and your child. 

    Can you get a pre-note that states your child has a recurring condition so that they are not sent home and have to go to the doctor?

    • No.  Even students with chronic conditions such as seasonal allergies, can get COVID-19.  We need an assurance from a health professional that the student’s symptoms is due to something other than COVID-19.

    If a student is suspected of having COVID, are their siblings also required to go home and/or quarantine?

    • Yes.  Until further testing is done to determine the cause of the individual’s symptoms, siblings who reside in the same house will also stay home until an explanation from a healthcare professional is provided to the school (negative COVID test or a clear, alternate diagnosis).
    • A student would only need to quarantine for 14-days if the sibling tested positive or if the family could not provide the requested documentation from a healthcare professional.

    Are there plans to sanitize and service the HVAC systems in the schools?

    • Our building HVAC systems have a regular maintenance schedule.  
    • Unlike homes and most businesses, the HVAC systems in our schools do not recycle inside air.  Instead, they are constantly bringing in outside air which makes for a much healthier environment.

    Are hand air dryers being removed and replaced with paper towels?

    • No.  Our air dryers are touchless and, if face coverings are being worn and hands are washed properly, do not increase the risk of spreading the virus.

    If students go on vacation will they be allowed back in school?

    • We are looking at this as a “contact of a contact” situation (see page 16 of the re-entry plan).
    • If anyone in the family exhibits COVID-like symptoms upon return, all students in the family should be tested or quarantined for 14 days.

    If a child has minor symptoms and sees their pediatrician, does the pediatrician have to give a medical diagnosis to come back to school?

    • Your doctor will  need to provide written documentation that the symptoms exhibited are not due to COVID-19. They may provide an alternate diagnosis or recommend returning to school because all symptoms have subsided by the time the child is evaluated.



    Face Coverings

    We know that this virus is spread when droplets of saliva from an infected person enters the eyes, nose or mouth of a non-infected individual.  In order to provide the safest and healthiest learning and working environment, we must use barriers to keep these droplets from getting from an infected person to others.  Using face coverings takes a highly risky face-to-face environment to a low risk environment as seen below.


    Chance of Transmission



    Will students be required to wear masks all the time?

    • No.  When outside for class or recess, students will be able to remove masks.  
    • Students can remove masks when eating.
    • Teachers may provide brief “mask breaks” during the day provided that the student is physically distanced from peers such as standing in the classroom doorway.

    Are masks good for young students? Can you show us scientific studies that wearing masks for young children is safe? 

    How will supervision of students be handled to ensure they are maintaining all protocols including wearing their mask properly? What will be done discipline wise if a student will not wear their mask properly?

    • In schools, we teach behaviors every day.  This is no different.  We do not intend for mask wearing to become a discipline issue.  If a student forgets their mask, we will provide a disposable mask for them to wear.  
    • If compliance becomes an issue, the building administration will intervene to help educate the student on the importance of caring for each other in this manner.

    Can face shields be worn instead?

    • Only with a note from a physician stating that a mask cannot be worn.

    Will there be barriers around students’ desks?

    • We are looking at acrylic barriers on kidney tables or lab tables when students are working in small groups, in close proximity, or face-to-face to add an extra layer of protection for students and staff. There are no plans to surround individual desks with any type of barrier, however.



    Adjustments that are common to all buildings regarding cafeteria procedures include:

    • No-self service
    • Lunchrooms limited to 50% capacity
    • Grab & go breakfast
    • Boxed or plated lunches (hot lunch, sandwich, and salad options still available)
    • OPAA staff will assist custodians and administrators with cleaning and sanitizing between lunch shifts
    • Microwaves will be available for student use.  Disinfectant wipes will be provided and should be used to wipe down the handle and keypad prior to use.


    • Students will rotate eating in the cafeteria with eating in the classroom to keep the cafeteria to 50% capacity.

    Middle School

    • Students will eat in the lunchroom but lunches will be staggered to maintain 50% capacity.
    • Seats will be assigned to minimize contact.

    High School

    • In addition to the cafeteria, other common spaces may be used for lunch in order to maintain 50% capacity.
    • Seats will be assigned to minimize contact.



    Preparing for the 2020-21 School Year Parent Survey Results

    In June the district collected feedback from parents to help inform decision-making as we moved forward.  We realize that circumstances have changed since the middle of June, but we were asked to share the results of the survey.  You will find the survey questions and a series of charts with the results below.



    Comfort Level



    attend school




    Encore/Non-Core Classes 


    • Due to the nature of the curriculum, there is no virtual option for choir or band.  
    • We are allowing virtual high school students to participate in MSHSAA sponsored activities.  High school choir and band are MSHSAA sponsored activities so virtual students may attend choir and/or band in person if they wish to participate.


    • At the beginning of school, elementary music will not be singing.  
    • Curriculum will include instrumentation, use of technology, composing, etc.
    • Performances will be smaller groups and digital in format.

    Middle School

    • Choir
      • Singing will only take place if class can be held outside.
      • Curriculum will include instrumentation, use of technology, composing, etc.
      • Performances will be smaller groups and digital in format.
    • Band
      • An extra section of band will be scheduled to reduce class sizes.
      • Multiple rooms will be used during each band class to further reduce the number of students.
      • Masks designed specifically for instrumentalists will be provided as well as covers for the end of the instruments to contain aerosol.

    High School

    • Chior
      • If possible, choir will be held outside.
      • When singing inside, students will be required to wear masks.
      • Students will be positioned at least 6 feet apart whether class is inside or outside.
    • Band
      • Masks designed specifically for instrumentalists will be provided as well as covers for the end of the instruments to contain aerosol.
      • At the beginning of the school year, band will be held outside.
      • When class is inside, masks and instrument covers will be used and students will be socially distanced.

    Physical Education

    • Equipment will be cleaned/sanitized between uses and/or classes.
    • Students will wash and sanitize hands before and after PE.
    • Students may remove their face coverings for PE if they are engaged in physical activity.  If the student is “on the sidelines” waiting to participate, face coverings will be used.
    • Following guidelines from the CDC and Children’s Mercy Hospital, students will not be in close proximity to each other for extended periods of time.  Activities will be done in small groups and rotated frequently to keep student groups moving.
    • At the middle school and high school, students will enter and use the locker rooms in two shifts to provide for greater social distancing.  The middle school may use additional locker room spaces for dressing. Masks will be worn in the locker rooms at all times and good hand hygiene will be practiced throughout.


    • Any books that are checked out will be placed in a three-day quarantine upon return before being returned to shelves.
    • Students will wash their hands before going to library and then use hand sanitizer before browsing books.  Hands will be washed and sanitized after leaving the library and returning to class.
    • At the elementary and middle schools, students will be able to reserve a book and have it delivered to them in the classroom.
    • At the high school, students can reserve a book which will be pulled and bagged for them to pick up at the circulation desk.
    • Virtual students will be able to check out books from our school libraries.  Specific details will be shared with these families.

    Technology Classes

    • Students will wash and sanitize hands before and after technology class. 
    • Students will bring supplies and headphones with them to class each time.
    • Students will wipe down surfaces of tables, chairs and supplies.
    • Students will be socially distanced by at least 3 feet.
    • Equipment will be cleaned and sanitized prior to each use.


    • Materials will not be shared in any classes including art.
      • Supply lists will be updated with additional art items that need to be provided due to limitations with sharing materials.  If this creates a hardship for your family, please contact your building principal.
    • Students will have supply boxes that come with them in Grades K-6.  
    • Highschool has created individualized bags of supplies for students and will be placed in individual student cubbies for the semester. 
    • Students will sanitize hands when entering and exiting the Art room.
    • Students will have assigned seats in all Art classrooms. 
    • Teachers will pass out materials to limit the number of students passing out items. 
    • Students will bring their devices to art class with them so that they can make digital portfolios.  

    Family and Consumer Sciences & Human Services Education

    • Students will experience all aspects of the curriculum but will do so individually in rotating groups.
    • When cooking, no food or preparation tools will be shared.
    • Supplies and materials will not be shared.



    COVID Positive Case in School

    What is the plan when there is a case in the school?

    • We would first assess the details of the specific situation to determine if the building needs to be closed for deep cleaning and disinfecting or if only part of the building needs to be closed.  We have some virtual students, for example, who may come to school for a 30-minute intervention and only will visit one classroom through one hallway.  That would not warrant closing the entire building.
    • If we do need to close a building for deep cleaning and disinfecting, it will be closed for at least two days.
    • We will work with local health officials to conduct contact tracing and notify staff and/or families of students who are known contacts (see definition on page 16 of the re-entry plan).

    Please be advised that we are required by law to protect the privacy of our students and staff.  We will not be able to disclose the name of any individual who tests positive.



    Will there be specific regulations for before and after school clubs, visiting other facilities, locker room use, weight training classes, and field trips?

    • Before and after school clubs will document attendance, implement seating charts for contact tracing, social distance by 3-6 feet and enforce the wearing of face coverings.  There will be no shared materials.
    • Students will be able to visit other facilities in the district to complete A+ hours.  Staff will be able to visit other facilities in the district to complete their job functions such as maintaining facilities, supporting teachers in curriculum and instruction, and providing interventions to students. 
    • For information on locker room use and PE classes including weights, please see the Encore/Non-Core Classes section.
    • There will be no field trips for the foreseeable future.

    How will recess be done?

    • Classes will be assigned a section of the playground to use on a daily basis so they can stay in their classroom cohorts.
    • Section assignments will be rotated.

    Will students be required to clean their own desks?

    • When age appropriate, yes.  Everyone will have to be a part of the solution to the COVID-19 problem which includes face coverings, hand cleaning/sanitizing, and cleaning equipment and/or desks.  In order for teachers to properly supervise students, they need help cleaning high contact surfaces in the classrooms.  We have ordered bleach-free disinfectant wipes for use in the classrooms, and according to the National Capital Poison Center, cleaning wipes are non-toxic and safe for students to use. If you do not want your child to help in this manner, please contact your building principal.

    How are you going to prevent kids with positive family members from coming to school?

    • We will visually screen students for observable symptoms and refer them to the nurse but we need our families to help keep our school community safe by assuming COVID positivity when their children have COVID-like symptoms.

    I have signed my student up for virtual learning and have changed my mind.  How do I “undo” that?

    • Please email Michelle Kratofil at with the names of the student and the subject line “Drop Virtual Learning”.

    How will 504 plan accommodations be met?

    • We will provide the accommodations and modifications specified in the 504 plan.
    • 504 meetings will take place virtually or in person as updates are needed.