FACT CHECK: Hoax Letter Claims Missouri Public School Students Must Repeat The School Year Due To COVID-19 Closures

Jonathan Fonti | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) letter saying public school students must repeat the current school year because of COVID-19 closures.

Verdict: False

The hoax letter appears to be an April Fool’s joke. The DESE has publicly debunked the claim.

Fact Check:

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced on April 9 that all public school districts and charter schools shall remain closed through the current school year in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. At press time, the state has reported 114 deaths and 4,388 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

A viral image falsely alleges in a post that the DESE sent out a letter to parents saying their children must repeat the current school year, despite the DESE debunking the letter. (RELATED: Did Walmart Introduce A Staggered Shopping Schedule By Age Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic?)

“Unfortunately Missouri case law on education makes it very clear that if students can not take the necessary final exams in a class room setting & they can not complete the curriculum that was established at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year no one enrolled in a public school in the state of Missouri can be allowed to be promoted to their next grade level,” reads part of the fake letter. “This means that whatever grade each of your students started at in August of 2019 will need to be repeated.”

The DESE published a statement debunking the letter on its Facebook page April 1, saying “This is simply not true. We could not be more disappointed that someone chose to use their free time to create this document, illegally using our department logo, and make a joke about something as serious as our students’ education.”

There is no indication that the DESE or Missouri school districts intend to make students repeat the school year at this time. Many students have transitioned to online learning environments in response to schools stopping in-person classes, according to KSHB-TV.

The fake letter, signed by “Candice B. Fureal,” appears to be an April Fool’s Day joke but many social media users took it as fact amid school closures across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jonathan Fonti

Fact Check Reporter
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