As many school districts are announcing closures for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Gasconade County R-2 Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner said it is too …
As many school districts are announcing closures for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Gasconade County R-2 Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner said it is too soon to make that call.
“Us here, we are not ready to make that call yet, as things are changing daily,” Garner said.
Warrenton and Wright City have already announced they will not be returning for the remainder of the school year. Schools in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and Jefferson County have extended their closures from April 3 to April 22.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” Garner said as far as school closures and COVID-19 is concerned. “We have dealt with H1N1 — where there was low attendance and people were sick. We have never had anything like this that I have been dealing with.”
Garner said he would rather extend the school’s closure time than cancel for the entire year at this point — to ensure the district is back to school this year if possible. Prom and graduation for the district are all “up in the air” right now.
“As long as officials at the Center for Disease Control, health departments, governor and president are indicating no more than 10 people in a group setting, that is what we are going to attempt to do,” Garner said. “We are doing conference calls and webinars every day. I know Franklin County has its first case confirmed.”
Garner said they are exploring what that means and what the county health departments are saying.
“I know we are out for these two weeks, so I don’t feel like we are under the gun to extend it in the next hour,” Garner said. “We have time to look at those things. I have been advocating to wait and watch and see if the curve is flattening or getting steeper. Anything we can do online, we will.”
Garner said he participates in conference calls with county, state and local officials on the status of COVID-19 almost daily. Superintendents will be talking later this week about what has transpired so far.
Students in the district should have returned from Spring Break on Monday, but due to COVID-19 orders and recommendations from the health department, local, state and federal government officials, they aren’t due to return to school until April 6. Students received packets and middle and high school students were issued Chromebooks on March 16 and 17, prior to being sent home, to participate in online learning. Per instruction, they began working on the projects Monday, March 23.
“The big thing, if they are interested in meals, free for any students 18-years-old and under, go to www.Dutchmen.us to sign up so as we are making plans and preparing,” Garner said. “We have enough prepared for those coming in on Monday between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., and we will continue to hand out meals as long as people are in line.”
Garner said the board is planning to keep their regular meeting on April 20. If changes or a school closure extension are recommended, they will notify students and parents via the emergency notification system — the same way they were notified about the March 18 to April 3 closure.
He also reminds the public that with elections pushed back to June 2, current elected board members will serve in their seats until elected officials may replace them.