Both the Palmyra R-I and Marion County R-II school districts have temporarily closed schools for the time being due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Palmyra R-I School Board voted during a special meeting Tuesday to close schools until Monday, April 6, while the Marion County district earlier decided to close and resume classes Wednesday, April 1.

R-I Superintendent Kirt Malone said in a letter to school families the decision was made after  consultation with county and state authorities about the issue. 

“The school board and the district administration have been working very closely with Marion County Health Department and state health authorities to do what is necessary to support the health and safety of students, employees, and the surrounding community,” Malone said. “That said, there will be many more difficult choices that must be made in the coming weeks - sometimes with little time and incomplete information.”

Malone said the community should be aware the situation could very well change in the future.

“We will keep you updated as we receive information throughout the coming days and weeks,” Malone said, noting the district is developing ways to continue educating students as best it can without actual classrooms.

“The Missouri Department of Education will not require school days be made up when missed for COVID-19 closure, as long as the school provides lessons to students during that time,” Malone said, indicating that lessons will begin Monday, March 30, after the regularly scheduled spring break. 

He said teachers will provide details as lessons are presented.

Malone said families are being surveyed  to determine their WiFi capabilities at home and interest about receiving meals for children at home during the school closure.

“Our current plan is to provide lessons for students via Google Classroom, or SeeSaw, as well as paper packets for those who do not have access to Wi-Fi at home,” Malone said. “Lessons will begin Monday, March 30, and we will deliver lesson packets for those who signed up. 

“We will deliver meals to families who signed up for meals and live on a bus route. Meals will be delivered between 7 and 8 a.m.”

Malone said lesson packets and meals can only be delivered to the home address, and student accounts will be charged for all meals ordered. 

“If you do not live on a bus route, meals will be available for curbside pick-up at the main entrance of Palmyra High School, from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. each day during this school closure,” Malone said.  “Meals will only be available to families who have signed up through their child’s office.”

Malone also said that students who live in the city limits of Palmyra, but do not currently have Wi-Fi access, may be eligible for 60 days of free WiFi offered by Charter Cable. 

Beginning March 30, students will be able to access the school Wi-Fi from the PHS south parking lot. Wi-Fi will only be available to devices already assigned to the PSD1 system, that includes all student iPads.

“We are entering unprecedented times in education,” Malone said. “In the past few days we have witnessed significant changes in the effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I expect we will see more changes in the coming days and weeks. Please take care of yourselves and feel free to contact your child’s school if you have any questions regarding our school closure.”

Meanwhile all school events, including high school sports  events and practices during the closure period, will be canceled, while the entire middle school track and field season is canceled.

R-II Superintendnet Deacon Windsor said in a letter to school families that school buildings and facilities will be closed to all faculty and public until further notice, “during a rigorous sanitation phase of our plan to maintain a healthy school environment.”

Windsor said the district will inform families via Remind, social media and through the district’s web page.

Windsor also thanked patrons for their “patience and understanding as we are going through an extended school wide shut down for all functions and activities.”