Local schools going on wellness break

Monday, March 16, 2020

Districts postpone classes amid coronavirus concerns

Barry and Lawrence county school districts have coordinated to postpone classes and extracurricular activities until April 3, citing concerns about coronavirus.

After today (Monday), Cassville, Monett, Shell Knob, Exeter, Southwest, Purdy, Wheaton, Pierce City and Verona school districts will go on a wellness break, per recommendations from the Barry and Lawrence county health departments.

“This is due to updates from the health departments,” said Russ Moreland, Monett superintendent. “We have been advised to follow their leads. On Friday, the said we should stay in school, but things obviously continue to change and evolve, and their recommendation changed today.

“This has caused a lot of anxiety with family and kids and staff. Combining those factors, we are making sure we do what we need to be responsible.”

Moreland said parents may pick up their children before the end of the day if they wish, and the wellness break begins Tuesday and will run until April 3.

“We will reevaluate when we get somewhere on or around April 3 and communicate that with community and staff, based on information we receive from health officials,” he said.

Moreland said he appreciates families and staff for their patience.

“This has been a terribly difficult decision,” he said. “A lot of factors go into this. It’s much different than canceling a day or two because of weather.”

Moreland said all co- and extra-curricular events and sports practices are also suspended, effective immediately. The district is also looking into how to offer a meal service, possibly a bagged lunch for pick-up or delivery, while the wellness break is ongoing.

Pierce City

Kelli Alumbaugh, Pierce City superintendent, said the district is ready to offer a grab-and-go meal service for breakfast and lunch.

“We filled out our waiver and coordinated with the food service director, and we are ready to go tomorrow (Tuesday),” she said.


Mindi Gates, Purdy superintendent, said the spring conference events Monday and Tuesday have been canceled. Regarding food service, a plan of action is still being formed.

“We are looking to meet with our food service employees after school and we will then have an idea of what we will do and inform the community,” she said.


Melody Whitehead, Verona elementary school principal, said Verona has put out a questionnaire to families to see whether they would prefer a grab-and-go service or a delivery service.

“We have a heart for our families, and our staff members will create a rotation to deliver meals themselves not using our school transportation services, but it’s still in the works,” she said. “We will also push out some learning opportunities online and get creative with apps like YouTube [and others] to keep up our interaction with students.”

Coronavirus info

Coronavirus refers to a family of viruses, some of which can infect people and animals, named for crownlike spikes on their surfaces.

The viruses can cause the common cold or more severe diseases such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and COVID-19, the latter of which first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

Good habits to avoid catching the virus, including:

• Washing hands regularly, especially before meals and after using the restroom

• Avoid coughing or sneezing in hands or outwardly in the air, try to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of the arm

• As much as possible, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

• If children are feeling sick, please keep them home or away from school and other public areas

If a person has a fever of 100 degrees or higher, has a cough or has difficulty breathing, he or she should follow Center for Disease Control recommendations and contact a healthcare provider.

As of Monday, six people in Missouri have tested positive for COVID-19, including two in Greene County.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The current risk for severe illness is low, as there are only a small number of individual cases in the U.S. It is likely spread from person to person mostly from coughing and sneezing within 6 feet of a non-infected person. Other transmission methods may include: Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; touching an object or surface containing the virus, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes; and in rare cases, contact with feces.

Those more susceptible to complications include older adults and those with serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and any condition that affects the immune system.

As for treatment at this time, it is recommended to drink plenty of fluids, rest, and take pain and fever medications.

More than 80 percent of those infected recover after mild symptoms. Those more susceptible to complications may experience more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, and require hospitalization.

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