COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Columbia Public Schools are set to close from Wednesday until April 13 to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A letter sent to district parents said all district-sponsored activities are suspended while the schools are closed.
District elementary school students will have packets of work and regular communication with their teachers. CPS students in grades 5-12 will be able to submit work through an online system.
According to the letter, special needs students may receive compensatory services.
The district is working on plans to feed students who are in need of meals. As of Monday afternoon, the district was still finishing on a plan with the USDA, as well as working out how the meals would be distributed. CPS superintendent Dr. Peter Stiepleman said the district was still working out logistics.
"So that's another big piece for us, to make sure we've got locations around the city including using our bus system to make sure that we deliver food to those high-poverty parts of our community, who are right now probably really nervous about what does that mean if it comes to food insecurity," Stiepleman said.
Teachers will be allowed inside district buildings to work on preparations between Wednesday and March 20. Kathy Steinhoff, a Hickman teacher and president of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association, said she expected students to come into school on Tuesday both excited and nervous.
"We have some children that school is the best place for them," Steinhoff said. "It's where they're fed everyday, it's where they're taken care of everyday and it's where they're with their friends."
The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri is working with school districts it serves, according to communications and marketing coordinator Seth Wolfmeyer. The food bank gives food to schools for its Buddy Pack program, which then hands them off the students in need.
"As school closures occur, we're determining how we can work with them to keep food going to students," Wolfmeyer said.
Jefferson City Schools also announced Monday that the district would close its schools between Wednesday and April 3. Harrisburg and Marshall Public Schools announced over the weekend that Monday classes were canceled.
No cases of COVID-19 had been identified in Mid-Missouri early Monday afternoon but Gov. Mike Parson announced a sixth confirmed Missouri case that morning. Three people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Greene County, two in St. Louis County and one in Henry County.
A list of cancellations is available at this link.