March 23, 2020

The St. James R-I School District is recognizing our scheduled spring break this week (March 23-27). It may seem we have been on break already because of the COVID-19 Closure. This perception is far from the truth. Our educational staff prepared in advance and forged ahead with exceptional virtual learning opportunities for our students. We are still learning much about virtual learning platforms and the many unknowns associated with this unique pandemic closure. We will be using this week as a true break from district related learning as it is healthy and necessary for staff and students to be able to focus on other non-school matters. For the most part, our administrative staff will also attempt to step away from school related responsibilities during the break. However, the leadership team will be using this year’s spring break as an opportunity to learn more about what we should be doing beyond April 3. We will remain in close contact with our state leaders and local health officials about best practices and how we should proceed if we should return to school this year, and conversely if we should have to cancel school for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. There have been several questions floating around about many of the unknowns. We have been doing our very best to prepare for all scenarios under these precarious circumstances. Below are a few questions with district developed answers, which can also be retrieved on the “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)” page on our district website under the “COVID-19 Closure” tab: 

  • Will the closure affect graduation? As of now, the closure should not affect the commencement date. As far as what commencement looks like, we will have to wait and see the status of COVID-19 and take into account official instruction, should there be any at the time. 
  • Will students be surveyed regarding their recent travel? We are diligently developing plans to assess recent travel activity before allowing staff and students to return to the school setting. At this time, our plans include requiring all school staff and students returning from international travel or other high exposure areas to self-quarantine for 14 days before being allowed to return to school.
  • Will this impact state testing? DESE has canceled required state testing for the 2019-2020 school year.  
  • Will missed days need to be made up? Schools will not be required to make up calendar hours lost due to the COVID-19 and missed calendar hours will not impact the calculation of average daily attendance, which is used to calculate state aid payments.
  • How does this affect Summer School? At this time, we are planning for a highly academic summer school session. We want to ensure our students will receive the best possible education and help alleviate any academic loss for our students during the COVID-19 Closure. Summer school dates have been approved, and will start on June 1 and end on June 25. Summer School dates are subject to change if official state and local instruction is given to postpone or cancel.  
  • Will the District provide meals during the COVID-19 Closure? Yes. This will begin on Monday March 30 at Lucy Wortham James Elementary, 314 South Jefferson, for all children 18 and under. Pick up opportunities will be all Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays each week of the closure from 10:30am to 12:30pm, as long as there is a need. Each child will receive two breakfast and two lunch meals. No paperwork is required. Children must be present in order for meals to be provided. Meals will be provided based on the number of children present. This program will be solely for the pick up of meals, and meals will not be consumed on site. We encourage families to continue to be proactive in reducing the risk of COVID-19 by not congregating at the school site and utilizing social distancing once meals have been distributed. Meals will be brought to the car. If you do not have transportation you may also call 573-261-3712 and leave a message. We will call you back to make arrangements for delivery. If anyone has difficulties feeding your children outside the listed times, please call the aforementioned number to leave a message. 
  • Will MSHSAA cancel spring sports seasons? At this time, MSHSAA is not canceling high school spring and middle school sports seasons. The St. James Athletic Department will stay in communication with MSHSAA and competing schools to determine the best possible way to move forward and allow these experiences for our students. As more information becomes available from MSHSAA, the St. James Athletic Department will pass available information on to students, parents, and the community. 
  • Can my community sports teams use the school facilities (gyms, fields, etc.)? No. All school operated facilities are closed until school reopens on April 6. 
  • How does this affect Prom? If school resumes on April 6, Prom is still scheduled to take place on April 25 at Matt’s Steakhouse. If the school closure is prolonged or if we are under a “Stay at Home Order”, Prom will more than likely be postponed or canceled. An alternative date of May 9 is being explored if a postponement becomes necessary. We will continue to monitor the situation and will update all students and parents as soon as a final decision is made. 
  • What about A+ attendance requirements? Due to school closures in response to COVID-19, Missouri Higher Education & Workforce Development has temporarily reduced or suspended certain A+ Scholarship eligibility requirements. Learn more at bit.ly/398TRt0.
  • How will this affect Kindergarten Screening appointments? Kindergarten screenings have been postponed until further notice. All current appointments have been canceled. Please watch the district webpage, Lucy Wortham James Elementary Facebook page, Three Rivers Publishing and KZNN for more updates. 
  • What about the April 7th elections? Governor Parson issued an executive order moving the April 7 school board/municipal elections to June 2 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was done after numerous counties and election authorities prepared to petition the courts to have the election moved.