Warren County R-III, Wright City R-II school districts to close for remainder of year

Warrenton, Wright City school districts to close for remainder of year
By: 
Derrick Forsythe
Staff Writer

Classrooms across the county will remain empty for the rest of the school year.
Both Warren County R-III and Wright City R-II have decided to close schools in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Each district held a special board meeting on Wednesday to make a decision concerning the fate of the academic year. Both followed the recommendation of the Warren County Health Department to close for eight weeks.
Warren County voted 5-0 in favor of closure, with Wright City approving the proposal 7-0.
“We took our time gather as much updated information as people and really thought everything over before making a decision,” said R-II Superintendent Dr. David Buck. “We know it’s not ideal, but we feel like it’s what’s best. My heart breaks for these kids in spring activities and the seniors.”
With the eight-week window leaving only a few days of school remaining before the scheduled last days for each district, the boards decided to keep students out of the building for the duration of the year.
“We were just following the recommendation of the health department to close for eight weeks,” said R-III Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith. “We have nine weeks left in the school year. We felt like best thing would be to close to protect all citizens in the county from the virus. Although students are not the ones affected directly, we do not want them to carry the virus to a grandparent or carry it around town.”
While this means students will not physically be in the building, districts will continue to educate the students through a remote method of learning. Staff in Wright City will be working to educate students through a virtual setup using Chromebooks and other technology.
Warrenton plans to have a non-mandatory curriculum, instead having teachers send home learning opportunities that are optional.
“The one thing we didn’t want to do as a district is create additional burdens on families at home who are going through potentially the most stressful time in their lives,” said Klinginsmith. “For those who choose to continue learning at home, they’ll have the opportunity to do that.”
The details of these alternative learning methods will unfold over the next week, as staff compile curriculum and address technology barriers. Wright City expects to begin delivering curriculum via multiple methods on March 26.
"For some we will use technology for virtual learning," said Buck. "We realize some don't have internet access. For those and the younger students, we'll provide packets."
Both districts also plan to meet the basic needs of students who rely upon attending school for food.
R-II will use its bus service and routes to deliver both breakfast and lunch to every student enrolled.
R-III will provide meal pickup drive-thru on Tuesdays and Thursdays behind in the Daniel Boone cafeteria. Families will have an opportunity to claim two breakfasts and two lunches per student each time to simulate what would be provided during a traditional four-day school week.
“If families have transportation issues and can’t get there, we’ve partnered with Agape to help deliver to children who need those meals,” added Klinginsmith.
Buck says the first step is notifying families and identifying any specific needs related to helping students learn from home, such as access to internet. For R-II, the language barrier can be a challenge so it will be bringing in an interpreter to communicate with families who have questions or concerns.
Klinginsmith says the Warren County intends to move ahead with summer school as scheduled, beginning May 27.
R-III still plans to host graduation for the Class of 2020 on May 30.
Buck says R-II is still considering dates and arrangements for graduation and summer school.
“We wanted more time to discuss details and plan to address this at our April meeting,” said Buck.

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