Parents address Palmyra R-I School Board concerning health, safety guidelines

by Patty Cheffey

Several Palmyra R-1 School District parents expressed their concerns regarding the district health and safety guidelines during last week’s R-1 Board of Education meeting.

During that meeting, the board also approved the filing dates for the April 6, 2021 election, approved the 2020-21 school year Christmas card design, heard a legislative update and approved policies and agreements.

In addressing the parents concerns, the district outlined the COVID-19 numbers within the district. 

As of last Monday, there were  65 students quarantined with 16 students having tested positive.

In addition, there were five staff members still quarantined with 13 staff members having tested positive. Of those who have tested positive, some or all might be back in class, said Superintendent Kirt Malone.

Under the school’s policy, parents are asked to contact the school if a child has tested positive.

“When the school is contacted about a positive case, contact tracers have to know when the positive case became symptomatic, then they use classroom seating charts and schedules to identify potential close contacts during the time the positive person was symptomatic at school,” said Malone.

Also, last week, Governor Mike Parson issued new guidelines for schools, which Malone said the district still needs to study to see how that might affect Palmyra R-1.

“One of our back to school goals is to have students in class learning in person,” Malone said. “The governor’s modification to the state reopening plan supports our goal, but will take some time to respond to at the local level. 

“We have to review the details of the modifications, then meet with everyone we are supposed to meet with to make sure any changes in our Back to School Plan would be approved by the health department,” he added.

In other business, the board approved the election filing dates for the April 6, 2021 election.

Two positions, those currently held by Stacy Hoerr and Darin Redd, will be elected.

Filing dates begin Dec. 15, and run through Jan. 19, 2021, at 5 p.m. 

The school’s central office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for holidays for those interested in filing.

The board also approved the 2020-2021 district Christmas card designed by Christian Drebes, a senior at Palmyra High School. Junior, Jaynee Durst, designed the runner up Christmas card.

Malone also provided the board with a legislative update, noting legislators are pre-filing bills right now for the session that begins in January.

He also noted the governor has called a special session of the general assembly to work through some COVID-19 expenditures and other COVID-related items.

The board also approved the facility rental schedule, this year including the new track and football field.

The board also:

• set the board retreat for Dec. 5; 

• approved Kinsey Cissna as the English language coordinator;

• approved the district homeless policy:

• approved the MSBA full maintenance agreement for a period from Nov. 1, 2020 through Oct. 31, 2021; 

• approved the updated substitute list; and

• heard building reports from the principals.