Richmond School District leaders close schools to address coronavirus

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Richmond School District leaders close schools to address coronavirus

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 18:01
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RICHMOND – Weather shortened the usual time for Richmond School District’s spring break, but the coronavirus made the break longer for Richmond and other area school districts.

After having off Friday and Monday, Richmond students expected to return to school Tuesday, but district officials announced Sunday that school would not restart until March 24, and that reopening date is not a certainty.

“We will communicate updates as they become available,” district information states.

Orrick notified parents the district would be closed through April 3.

“School may resume April 6,” district information states, underlining and making the word “may” bold.

Lathrop stated schools are closed “indefinitely.”

Excelsior Springs announced being closed through April 3.

Hardin-Central School District Superintendent Trey Cavanah said Tuesday the district would be closed all week and the issue of whether to stay closed longer would be reviewed March 20.

“The plan is, we’ll reassess,” Cavanah said.

Richmond School District Interim Superintendent Jim Finley said, prior to the district’s announced closing, that school and health officials had engaged in conversations about how to address the virus.

“We’re in the information-gathering phase of preparing for any potential response to the coronavirus,” he said.

To start the week, governors in 33 states had closed their K-12 schools. Among those states are neighboring Kansas, Arkansas, Illinois and Kentucky.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway called on Gov. Mike Parson to close Missouri’s public schools, too. So far, he has not, leaving the decision to individual districts. WalletHub, a personal finance website, stated 44 states are dealing more aggressively with the coronavirus than Missouri. This state ranks 45th among those that spend the least amount of money per person on health care.

Richmond High Schools’s first baseball game of the spring sports season had been slated for March 24 on the road against Chillicothe. That will not happen. All games and practices, for now, have been called off.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association suspended the remainder of the basketball championship games, but left the decision on whether to continue spring sports up to individual schools.

NBA officials suspended their season in the course of a single day, which may cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of lost jobs, advertising revenue and ticket sales. Similarly, if schools close before the end of the year, then attendance-dependant revenue from the state could be affected, Finley said.

“That’s a bridge that the state is going to have to cross, if it gets to that,” he said.

In addition, the district has not yet made provisions for feeding students who rely on the school system for breakfast and lunch.

Some colleges and other schools across the country and in the state have canceled classes in buildings, but are conducting video classes in place of regular classroom instruction. Finley said Richmond probably lacks that ability.

“It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for us to provide virtual education opportunities,” he said.

Steps by the district, if necessary, would be linked to whether the virus spreads further or dissipates.

“We’ll continue to gather information and look for guidance,” he said.

What the next few weeks may hold for school districts is unclear, Finley said.

“These are very uncertain times and we’re in new territory,” he said.