Parson in Neosho

Gov. Mike Parson participates in a roundtable on reopening schools in Neosho, Missouri. 

JENNINGS, MO (KCTV) -- Yolonda Fountain-Henderson said she understands the anxiety parents are feeling about sending their kids back to school in the fall.

“It’s hard, it's really hard, because I’ve heard student’s who’ve gotten the virus,” she said.

Fountain-Henderson is a parent to a 13-year-old and she’s one of several school administrators from across the St. Louis metro area that met with Missouri Governor Mike Parson Wednesday at Jennings High School.

Parson has been meeting with school administrators from across the state hearing their plans and concerns as students return to class.

“Really trying to maintain two things: how do we continue education to our kids and how do we keep people safe,” said Parson.

The governor, who’s been vocal about not issuing any mandates regarding COVID-19 protections for public schools, said that’s because the needs for each school district varies.

“The challenges I heard today are different from the challenges in Neosho, Springfield, and Jefferson City, most of those people, 90% of the people, parents want the school to start back up,” said Parson.

In more populated areas with higher coronavirus cases, the consensus was to utilize virtual learning.

“It’s why I don’t think you can do a statewide mandate and make that fair to every school district in the state,” he said.

Leaders at Jennings High School are utilizing a hybrid method, implementing in-school and virtual options.

Parson said they’re also working to get rapid testing and contact tracing available to schools.

“The biggest issue facing us all is testing and contact tracing. Those are two critical issues as we move forward. A little over 30 days ago we were doing four tests a week, now we’re doing over 90,000 , so significant stress on the system trying to get results back in a timely fashion,” he said.