(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Administrators at the St. Joseph School District were not entirely surprised that Governor Mike Parson canceled the rest of the academic school year on Thursday.
"I think a lot of us realistically knew that when that time came toward the end of April that we weren't going completely back unless something major happened on the medical side of things."
The district had planned on having students out of the buildings through at least April 24. Now they say they will continue with online learning through the rest of the year.
"What we've been doing and how we've been doing it over the last several weeks will continue," he said. "We'll have to make sure we continue to reach out to families and build those relationships with students and families."
The director of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education appeared with Parson at his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday.
"We know remote teaching and learning looks different in every district across our state," said Margie Vandeven, commissioner of education. "We are simply asking our school leaders to continue to be creative, innovative and persistent in their pursuit to reach students with some kind of economic activity."
With Parson's announcement, there will be no graduation planned for seniors. However, the governor said he will work with districts across the state to make sure seniors get the opportunity to walk down the aisle and get a diploma at some point.
Van Zyl is sympathetic to seniors who had big plans to wrap up the year.
"Seniors who were hoping to get back have prom and have graduation. Now that puts a halt to that," he said.
What's left are several unanswered questions.
"What should districts do about summer school?" Vandeven asked. "What will the reentry to school look like? How will this impact graduating seniors? What can we do to address broadband internet issues that we experience across the state."
Van Zyl said the St. Joseph School District will continue with its food program for students. He said they provide thousands of meals each day to kids across the district who might not be fed otherwise.