Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced on Thursday, April 9, 2020, that Missouri schools shall remain closed through this school year. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, along with several school superintendents from across the state made the recommendation to Governor Parson.
During the briefing, Missouri K through 12 Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven encouraged school leaders to continue being creative in teaching students. Parson says the state will figure out a way for this year’s high school seniors to still walk down the graduation aisle.
Alongside Governor Parson, Commissioner Vandeven stated “COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges for all of us and the education community is certainly no different. The recommendation made to Governor Parson today was not made lightly. This decision was made to continue protecting the health and safety of our students and school staff members. We know, maybe now more than ever, just how important our public schools are….how critical the services are that they provide their local communities….and how important the work is that our educators do each and every day for our children.”
School buildings will remain closed for the rest of the school year but school services should continue through the last day of school in each school district, as pre-established by the school calendar approved by local boards of education.
Those continued services include providing meals to the students as well as alternative educational opportunities. Many districts are using remote teaching and learning, which at this point in time looks different in every district across the state. School leaders are being asked to continue to be creative, innovative and persistent in their pursuit to reach students with some kind of academic opportunity.
Some schools are mailing or delivering packets to students who may not have access to technology or the internet. While other teachers and students are learning to navigate video conferencing software to deliver and receive instruction.
This announcement brings with it a number of additional questions. What should districts do about summer school? What will the re-entry to school look like? How will this impact graduating seniors? What can be done to address broadband internet access issues in many areas of our state? The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is working to address those and many other questions in conjunction with the Governor’s office.