SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Parents and students are waiting to hear what is in store for the fall semester at Springfield Public Schools (SPS).

The district announced it’s requiring masks for its second “Explore” summer school session after several staff and students tested positive for COVID-19 during session one.

During one of the weekly meetings SPS has with the Springfield Greene County Health Department, SPS was encouraged to take proactive steps to keep the spread out of the classroom.

Sara Barry’s daughter will be attending Jefferies Elementary for kindergarten in the fall.

“I felt like it was important for her to go to Explore and, you know, get that smooth transition into kindergarten,” said Barry.

Eleven staff and eight students tested positive for COVID during the week of June 27.

“There are a lot of things about this pandemic that has left many of us with a helpless feeling because it’s hard to know what to expect tomorrow,” SPS Communications Director Stephen Hall said .

The vaccine is not mandatory for staff and students at SPS, but it is strongly encouraged.

“Decisions regarding the pandemic are never easy,” Hall said. “And oftentimes it’s, it’s making the least bad decision in any given moment because there are not great options when face with a public health emergency. All we can do is rely on data and science. And rely on our public health partners to guide us through this, they are the experts.”

The district has a safe return to in-person learning plan, which constantly updates depending on the situation of the pandemic.