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Grab-and-go meals are available and markers for physical distancing are in place.

Springfield News-Leader

Following a topsy-turvy spring semester and a series of unprecedented changes caused by the global pandemic, a small but growing number of school leaders have talked about moving up the first day of school.

Springfield’s Superintendent John Jungmann is not one of them.

In an update Tuesday to the school board, Jungmann said the district is sticking to the 2020-21 calendar approved earlier this year.

“We are still on target,” he said. “There has been some statewide conversations around adjustments of start dates and we’ve had parents call.”

The board-adopted calendar calls for the first day of the school year to be Monday, Aug. 24.

Jungmann said any change to the start date will require the administration to make the request and board approval. “We don’t anticipate it at this point.”

In recent years, the state’s largest district has operated two sessions of summer school, called Explore. The first session is typically in June and the second in July.

Gov. Mike Parson ordered all public schools to close for the rest of the school year and it is unclear when they will reopen.

Jungmann said the district will remain closed through May 21, the final day of classes for this school year. Teachers and students are working remotely, mostly online.

“We’d much rather be in our school facilities, face-to-face with students but we are making the best of a bad situation,” he said.

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Springfield has announced the first session of its summer program will be online-only.

“We have made the decision to flip the first session of Explore to fully virtual at this point so the June learning session will be Explore To Go,” he said. “We hope students will continue to learn with us, wherever they are today.”

Jungmann said a decision regarding the second session will be announced in late May or early June.

“We are committed to continuing learning in July,” he said. “Obviously, it’s our hope that there is some way we can be back together in some settings in July.”

Enrollment for the modified elementary and middle school Explore courses will be open May 4. High school enrollment is open. More than 80 courses will be available. 

“We haven’t lost the experience, we are just going to have to deliver it in a different way,” he said.

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The district recently announced commencement ceremonies for Central, Glendale, Hillcrest, Kickapoo and Parkview high schools will be Aug. 6-7 at JQH Arena. Project Graduation events will also be held at that time.

Jungmann said the district is optimistic other celebrations that typically take place at the end of each school year can be rescheduled for the summer.

“We are very hopeful for a different world at that time,” he said.

Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to criley@news-leader.com and consider supporting vital local journalism by subscribing. Learn more by visiting News-Leader.com/subscribe.

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