Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced this afternoon that the state’s schools will not return this school year.
Education remotely will continue until the planned last day of school. Undecided is the status of summer school.
Parson promised seniors that some type of graduation would eventually be held to recognize their accomplishments.
The announcement came as 77 people in the state have died because of the coronavirus as of Thursday. More than 3,500 have tested positive.
“We are ordering all Missouri public and charter schools to remain closed through the remainder of the academic year with the exceptions of nutrition services and child care that are outlined in our recent health order,” Parson said in a Facebook post.
He ordered Missourians to begin staying at home earlier this week.
The school closure order won praise from state school groups.
The Missouri School Boards’ Association, for example, called it a “necessary step to protect the health and safety of our students, teachers, staff and communities.”
“Even though traditional classes will not resume this school year, education of our students will continue for the remainder of the year,” Executive Director Melissa Randol said.
Parson said his granddaughter was among those set to graduate from high school.
“For you seniors out there, I understand how disappointing that can be not to have a graduation ceremony,” Parson said. “I know you’ve worked hard for 12 years.
Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven acknowledged that the decision raises multiple questions, including how districts will handle summer school, graduation ceremonies and the need for internet services in rural areas.
“Please know our department is working quickly to address these and other questions,” Vandeven said.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association canceled the spring athletics season on Thursday.
“This decision is very difficult for all involved especially given the impact it will have on our students, parents, coaches, teachers and administrators throughout the state,” MSHSAA Executive Director Dr. Kerwin Urhahn said in a release. “We thank all of the participants, the coaches/directors/advisors, the administrations, the parents and everyone else who has dedicated tremendous amounts of time, passion and effort into these events.
“To our senior participants, we thank you for everything you have done for your schools and communities and wish you the very best in your bright futures. While this is a difficult ending, the lessons you’ve learned and friendships you’ve made through high school activities will last a lifetime.”