Lincoln County School districts rejoice that they were blessed with the miracle of being able to stay open all school year. The effort was more than just in school but a community effort as well, states the four Superintendents of Winfield, Troy, Elsberry and Silex School Districts.
Both Troy and Silex School Districts were open all year around. The superintendent of Silex, Rod Hamlett, credits all efforts to the community both inside and outside the school.
Hamlett states that he was excited that the school was able to stay open, and not miss too many days. The elementary school did not get shut down at all, but the high school was closed for two days because they had an outbreak in the sixth through twelfth grades.
However, they were only closed for two days.
“We are very excited that we were able to make it through the year. If you were going to tell me back in August that we would be sitting here on April 22 and having this conversation and we haven’t missed a single day, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Hamlett said. “I think that is a credit though to our community. I think it is a credit to our students and to our staff. Obviously we had to make some changes.”
Hamlett said that the changes that the school district made was wearing a mask everyday and deep cleaning on Wednesdays.
“For us to be in school is really a credit to the teachers and students in the community for following our guidelines,’ Hamlett said.
Hamlett says that his school has 450 students. With that in mind, the school did have some students who had been quarantined, these students could have been quarantined multiple times. Hamlett said roughly that the school had 45 staff members exposed to COVID-19 and 432 student cases.
“Some of these are quarantined more than once throughout the year. You may have one student who did multiple quarantines. Most of those took place before Christmas. We have really seen those numbers go down since we got back from Christmas break,” Hamlett said. “You hate it but we have had some students who did three or four quarantines just based on who they may have been around outside of school. Most of those quarantines occurred really because of an outside close contact not necessarily a school close contact.”
Hamlett closes by stating that he is very happy that they were able to stay in school.
“Really the bottom line is, I am really happy that we were able to stay in school. I am happy our seniors were able to enjoy their senior year,” he said. “I look back on last year and I think about all the things that our seniors missed out on in the Spring. It was really important this year that we did things right this year that our seniors were able to stay in school and they didn’t have to miss all the things that the last year seniors.”
Audrey Henebry, marketing and communication specialist at Lincoln County R-III School District in Troy states that the last day for Troy School District students is May 27. Henebry stated that they are “very optimistic about finishing the year strong.”
Their precautionary measures that the school is taking includes: face masks for all while on campus and social distancing is not feasible, pandemic cleaning procedures including electro-static spraying of all facilities, including buses, every day, increased access and time for hand washing/sanitizing, social distancing and, when feasible, additional measures can be found on the the Troy School District’s website.
“We are incredibly proud that the Lincoln County R-III School District has been able to provide options for all of our families to choose the safest learning environment for their child since the first day of the 2020-2021 school year,” said Henebry. “For our students, families, and community to thrive, our doors need to be open and we are thankful for all of the hard work and dedication that it has taken, from all stakeholder groups, to make that possible for Lincoln County R-III.”
Hanebry wraps up by saying “We are confident that we will round out our last month strong and are looking forward to having our students back on campus in June for summer school.”
Winfield and Elsberry school districts were open later in the year. The superintendent of Winfield, Daniel Williams was happy to say that his school was able to stay open all year.
“We started the school year all virtual and then we carried all virtual through the first quarter, I think we would have started back imperson October 19th,” said Williams.
May 21 is the school’s last day of the year.
“We really feel blessed at this point. One kudos to our maintenance and custodial staff,” Williams also said. “We have been disinfecting buildings every day naturally increasing that tenfold as to previous years. We have experienced a very low number of covid-positive and close contacts really throughout the pandemic since coming back in person.”
Williams gives the credit to the school and community surrounding.
“I really see that as a group effort. Where not only custodial and maintenance staff, but looking at all the extra efforts our teachers put into social distancing, kids and parents with the role they play and doing everything they can to mitigate COVID transmission,” Williams said.
He states that it has been a wonderful thing that they took all the worries and concerns that teachers, staff and parents had about returning but was able to keep the student body safe.
“Preventive measures, one of the big ones, is installing ionizer technology in all of our HVAC systems,” Williams said. “That is a proactive measure where ionizers kill hydrogen based viruses and molecules so to speak.”
Ionizers use high voltage to give an electrical charge to particles or to molecules in the air. These charged molecules are called ions, and the ions will then stick to particles. Charged particles are attracted to particles or surfaces with the opposite charge.
Ionizers work to add negative ions into your space, which attract and trap positively charged ions that carry allergens and bacteria. They help improve indoor air quality.
“We also have a mask mandate within our school district, we started following the governor’s guidance on if we had a mask mandate in place we would not have to quarantine close contacts that occur within the school day, from school,” Williams said.