Governor orders schools to stay closed for rest of school year

Thursday, April 9, 2020

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Students won’t be returning to school for the rest of the school year.

In his Thursday press conference, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced that all Missouri public and charter schools shall remain closed through this school year. DESE, along with several school superintendents from across the state made the recommendation to Parson earlier today.

Parson said schools should continue remote learning for their students until the end date previously set on their academic calendars.

“COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges for all of us and the education community is certainly no different,” said Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven in a statement. “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.”

Vandeven said that while continuing remote learning, schools should also continuing provided much-needed meals to the students as well as offering alternative education opportunities.

“We know remote teaching and learning looks different in every district across our state – so we are simply asking our school leaders to continue to be creative, innovative and persistent in their pursuit to reach students with some kind of academic opportunity,” Vandeven said. “We see some schools 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. We cannot applaud these educators enough, as well as our families at home, for stepping up to the plate to make learning a possibility amid this new normal.”

Vandeven said the announcement bring a number of additional questions, like what should districts do about summer school, what will the re-entry to school look like, how will this impact graduating seniors, and what can be done to address broadband internet access issues in many areas of Missouri?

“Please know that our department is working quickly to address these and many other questions in conjunction with the Governor’s office, continuing our efforts to help local school leaders navigate this process…removing barriers, simplifying any processes that we can and waiving the necessary state statutes and regulations,” Vandeven said. “I’ve said this many times over the last several weeks – I’ve never been more proud to be a Missouri educator. My colleagues at our department and in the 555 districts and charter schools across our state are working tirelessly to serve the students we love so much – and we’ll keep at it for the weeks to come.”

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