April 08, 2021
COVID-19’s effect on education, and learning how schools and students dealt with the pandemic, brought U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt to Cape Girardeau on Wednesday.
Blunt visited Central High School to be a part of a discussion with teachers, administrators and staff, and other local officials about the ongoing pandemic’s impact on the Cape Girardeau School District.
Blunt and school superintendent Neil Glass guided the meeting at the front of the cafeteria with attendees seated, socially distanced. The discussion highlighted the importance of re-opening schools, even with hybrid systems, and how it has been beneficial for students and the district as a whole in comparison to virtual-only learning
“I don’t think there is any substitute for being face-to-face,” Glass said during the discussion. “Virtual learning will never fill that void. If anything, it’s a tool in the tool box.”
Glass introduced and invited individuals who contributed to the district’s re-opening success to speak and answer questions from Blunt.
Jamie Russell, Cape Girardeau Career & Technology Center (CTC) instructional specialist, spoke about the schools’ virtual learning and how it was used, and how technology is now more integrated in the classroom.
Teachers, Cape Girardeau Central High School principal Nancy Scheller and other representatives from the CTC described how they were able to work in the pandemic and answered questions from Blunt about the topic.
“We’ve had to change and adapt a lot of how we teach because we are using a little more technology than we might have been before,” Emily Goode, a math teacher at the junior high, said during the discussion, “so, it’s actually been a good thing for me, because I have learned new ways of teaching things that I might not have done had everything gone the same way.”
Goode and other staff all spoke to how in-person learning, even with pandemic precautions, is better for the students, teachers and a district as a whole.
Blunt noted after the discussion that the district’s virtual learning program, Tigers@Home, declined as students returned to in-person learning for the second semester. He said the decline was a sought-after goal, adding “one of the things I wanted to talk about today is the great leadership experience they’ve had here at the Cape school system.”
“I was very pleased with the Senator coming, visiting our schools, that’s important for all our faculty and staff who worked so hard this school year to keep our doors open,” Glass said. “To see somebody of his influence come down and take note of what they’ve done, because it’s been an exhausting school year, it has, but they’ve stepped up to the plate, haven’t complained. I’m very, very blessed for each and every staff member, from the custodians, to the cooks, the teachers, my teacher assistants, to my secretaries, to my contact tracers, to administration. Everybody did their part.”
Local government officials such as Cape Girardeau Mayor Bob Fox, Cape Girardeau County commissioners Clint Tracy, Charlie Herbst and Paul Koepper and Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center director Jane Wernsman were also in attendance. They were acknowledged for their efforts to help the district re-open.
Blunt discussed the COVID-19 vaccines and how hesitancy to receive one has lowered since the first was cleared for public use. He highlighted the safety and validity of the vaccines now available. Glass noted the district offered vaccinations to faculty and staff and they are set to receive second doses Friday.
The end of Blunt’s term
Blunt announced last month he will not be running for reelection in 2022. When asked after the discussion what he wants to do in the next two years as his term comes to a close, he said he wants to focus on raising job satisfaction by informing students on what is available and making sure the nation is leading the world in efforts to provide health care, fight diseases and treat mental health “like all other health.”