East Prairie R-2 Schools set to reopen Tuesday

Thursday, September 3, 2020

EAST PRAIRIE, Mo. — Face-to-face instruction as well as distance learning for those who chose it will be begin Tuesday for students in the East Prairie R-2 School District.

East Prairie R-1 Superintendent Lesli Jones made the official announcement Tuesday via a letter posted on the district’s website and Facebook page.

“This school year is full of changes but one thing remains: We love and care for our students and will do our very best to keep them safe each day,” Jones said. “We ask for your patience and grace as we proceed.”

The new school year was previously set to begin Aug. 26, but on Aug. 19 Jones announced the district would delay the start of school until Sept. 8.

Part of the decision to delay the start of the school year was due to the fact the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the community was rising, Jones said.

“We didn’t have didn’t have any positive cases in our student group at the time; we had several quarantined due to contact,” Jones said. “We were just trying to be cautious and careful. The other issue we were having was we weren’t ready to go 100 percent virtual if we had to on the first day.”

The district just finished its middle school facility for fifth through eighth grades and administrators needed a little bit more adjustment time than the Aug. 26 start date would allow, the superintendent said.

The district is also completing construction of its prekindergarten and kindergarten facility which is expected to be ready in late November, Jones said. It will open to students when school resumes in January.

Of the 1,100 students enrolled in the district, 280 students have opted to do distance learning for the first semester, according to Jones.

“It’s going to be exciting to see the kids in the classrooms and hallways again,” Jones said.

As the new school year begins, Jones said there are several reminders for students and their families:

All students will receive free breakfast and lunch for the 2020-2021 school year. Students who have opted to distance learn will also receive meals twice a week.

No visitors are allowed in buildings without an appointment, and this policy will be reviewed at the end of first quarter (Oct. 28), according to Jones. Each campus has a drop box for items. If parents need to pick up their child for an appointment or illness, please call prior to arriving.

Bus routes have also changed.

In an effort to lessen the number of bus riders, the district is not providing transportation to students who live within a mile of its campuses, Jones said.

“A lot of our older kids can walk to school and we’re providing waivers for some of those families who request them,” Jones said.

Parents should screen children each morning prior to arrival. If he/she exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19, please keep them at home, Jones said.

Staff and students will be required to wear face coverings throughout the school day. This is a change from the information provided in the re-entry plan and is due to the increased risk in our community at this time, she said.

“We are wearing masks – both students and staff — all day for the first couple weeks,” Jones said, adding hopefully the number of positives cases will decline and then district can lessen those guidelines.

Everyone will wear masks on the buses, too, according to Jones. The district has different colored masks for morning and afternoon bus riders, she said. When the students get off the bus they will place their masks in a bucket and those will be laundered every day, she said.

Jones said virtual tours by principals of the district’s buildings were expected to be released Thursday or Friday on the district’s website and Facebook page.

“Initially, when we delayed the start of school, the feedback from parents we did have was positive,” Jones said.

And she hopes the support continues.

“We ask for grace and patience,” Jones said. “We’re trying really hard to do everything possible to keep our staff, students and community safe. Every day we are faced with something different with this, and we are trying really hard to do a good job.”

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