This is the County Executive Report Sam gave at the County Council meeting on July 21, 2020. You are welcome to attend County Council meetings, which are currently conducted by webinar; they are open to the public and feature time for public comment. You can find information on the next meeting and dial-in information in the events section at www.stlouisco.com.
Thank you, Lisa, and good evening everyone –
You all have heard today what Governor Parson said:
“These kids have got to get back to school.... And if they do get COVID-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they’re not going to the hospitals.... They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it.”
I must tell you that I strongly disagree.
We have a duty to protect our children. All of our children.
Like the governor, I want very much for our economy to reopen, to recover, to grow. But it won’t grow if COVID gets out of control in August and September.
The 10-19 years old age group comprises a significant portion of the new COVID increase in STL County. Our children are at risk.
That’s why I have urged all school districts in St Louis County to have a very strong virtual learning option in place so our kids, who may be infected but asymptomatic, do not have to jeopardize their health, the health of their teachers and custodians, and the health of their families when they come home while the COVID cases are increasing.
Between now and the start of school, the county will consider every strategy to bend the infection curve in the right direction so that a return to school might be possible. That will include keeping capacity limits in place at least through the summer and extending our monitoring of and enforcement at places that do not following masking, distancing, and capacity limits. We will shut down the ones that don’t.
I recommend that every parent with the option to do so choose the virtual courses.
I will repeat that: I recommend that every parent with the option to do so choose the on-line learning, at least for the first semester.
The county will support that choice with resources. Council member Dunaway announced this morning that the county will use $4 million of CARES Act funding to for tech and tech infrastructure, which can support access to virtual learning.
At this time, in person classes remain possible. I know that school districts will do the best they can to keep students safe in their buildings.
This is public health. This is government’s most basic task. We need to protect our kids. We need to protect our families.
Some may disagree with this. I sympathize. My own son wants to be in a classroom in September and I want that to be possible for him and for all students. But my first priority is to protect the families, and kids, and seniors in St. Louis County.
Across the country, partisan politics is turned all the way up. But here in St. Louis County, let’s try to keep things civil, respectful, and focused on our shared priorities of keeping people safe and stabilizing jobs and businesses. If we come together and play by the rules, we’ll bend the curve. And our kids will be able to return to school and sports.