Steelville students will not go to school the week of Thanksgiving or the Monday and Tuesday after the holiday weekend. Steelville School District Superintendent Mike Whittaker announced the calendar change for the school district on November 18.
In a letter to the community, Whittaker explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the district to adjust the way it operates, and, although numbers have dropped over the past week, he remains concerned about the increasing numbers in the area.
The number of positive cases in the district has been relatively low, with a total of 14 students and 10 staff members, but the number of quarantines has been higher, with 385 students and 39 staff members quarantined altogether. As of Monday, November 16, the total number of COVID-19 positive cases was seven—two students and five staff members. There were 79 quarantined—71 students and eight staff members.
These numbers were down significantly from the previous week, but the concern that the district might have to move to virtual learning at some point prompted the decision to change the calendar for next week. Whittaker noted, “In recent weeks, some schools in our area have been forced to go virtual or move to a hybrid schedule. At this time, I am confident that we will be able to continue educating the majority of our students in the school setting, however, we need to be prepared to move to our virtual option in the event that cases continue to rise. As a result, I have decided to change the calendar around our Thanksgiving break.”
Monday and Tuesday, November 23-24, will both be virtual learning days. All students K-12 will learn online from home. This will allow teachers and students to practice the online learning platforms. Preschool will be in session as usual. There is no school—as was already scheduled—from Wednesday through Friday, November 25-27. School will also not be in session on Monday and Tuesday, November 30 and December 1. This is a change in the calendar and these days will be made up at a later date.
Part of the reasoning for the change in the calendar is to provide for the possibility that students could be exposed to COVID-19 during the break. These extra days could allow time for symptoms to develop prior to returning to school. In the end, this could help reduce the number of students and staff that may have to be quarantined.
Grab and go meals will be available at Steelville Middle School on Monday and Tuesday, November 23-24. Parents must call 573-775-2175 and talk to Kari to sign up for this meal service by Friday, November 20.
Whittaker thanked the community for supporting the Steelville School District. He added, “I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause your family. Please understand, we are making every effort to ensure the safety of all of our students and staff.”