By Marlana Smith
Governor Parson issued an order for all schools in Missouri to remain closed for the rest of the academic year on Thursday, April 9.
North Shelby Superintendent Kim Gaines was surprised by Parson’s announcement. She was asked for a comment the following day.
“I was in total disbelief. Superintendents didn’t have any heads up this was happening yesterday. Now, we have to dig in and figure out how to bring closure to this school year,” she said in an email.
Shelby County R-IV Superintendent Tim Maddex said in an email, first and foremost, the safety of students, staff and communities is the top priority as they progress through the current COVID situation.
“I was a little shocked that the announcement came so soon,” Maddex admitted. “Just a week ago, we were told that the Governor had made the decision to close all schools until April 24.
“Now within a week of that announce-ment, he has closed all schools for the year. I understand these are ever-changing times, but still a little shocked it was announced without a notification to school districts ahead of the announcement at his daily press conference,” he added.
Maddex said these are unprecedented times for all school districts, locally, in Missouri and across the nation.
“Each district has its own challenges to meet the needs of our students and no one district seems to be alike in those needs. This is why we are using multiple forms of communication to help students maintain their learning during these difficult times. I am seeing numerous communications from staff members to parents.
“I see the school website being changed to offer new educational opportunities,” said Maddex.
Maddex indicated that staff members are using Zoom, Google meet and Google classroom to offer these activities, as well.
“We have parents coming to the elementary schools to pick up packets of learning for our younger students. I think we are making the best of the situation we are in as a school district. We understand that not all students have the internet capabilities at home, or the internet speed.
Gaines and Maddex both expressed they hope to hold graduation and prom when it is safe to do so.
Gaines said a plan will be presented at the board meeting on Wednesday, April 15, for awarding grades and credit.
Gaines said she wanted to thank the teachers, school board, support staff, students and parents for their support.
“These are unprecedented times, and North Shelby will continue to do all we can to keep our students engaged in their coursework. There are other issues we will need to address as this situation evolves, and we will be working to be proactive,” Gaines said.
“We have an amazing South Shelby High School Class of 2020. I can’t say enough how proud I am of these individuals and their accomplishments,” Maddex said.
“My heart hurts for these students that don’t get to end their senior year the way that most students get to end. We are and will continue to reach out to other area schools and the Department of Education to determine how to best navigate these difficult times,” Maddex added.
Maddex emphasized how big of a blessing the meal program has been. He said since getting out for the COVID break, over 4,000 meals have been served.
“This deserves a huge thank you to our kitchen staff, our custodians and our administration team that have been delivering these meals,” he said.
South Shelby’s last day of school is May 20 and NS will follow the day after.