Children and teens of Maryville were left with more questions than answers when all Nodaway County school districts announced closure through April 3, forcing the cancellation of activities, including regularly-scheduled sports, and further widening the umbrella of uncertainty for families across the county.
Local health officials met with members of several school boards and district superintendents across Nodaway County March 16 to alleviate concerns in the brunt of the novel coronavirus pandemic. After lengthy discussion, the solution came in the form of closure for all schools in the county for at least two weeks, forcing the cancellation of several school activities and events, including conference play in some sports.
Maryville School District Superintendent Becky Albrecht said the school has been aware of the growing issue since January and came to the decision to close after considering the health and safety of students.
“As a school district, top priority is safety of our students,” Albrecht said. “So far the best way to ensure that is to be out until April 3, and back in session on the following Monday. Time will tell if that is possible or not.”
Albrecht hosted a meeting at Maryville High School with several superintendents from schools across northwest Missouri March 16 to discuss options and heed advice from the Center for Disease Control. After weighing options, temporary closure was deemed the best thing the district could do.
Following the announcement of closure, district leaders met and thought of ways the school could provide services for students during the shutdown.
A page was created on the Maryville High School website, being updated with the latest information on the district’s approach to the coronavirus. According to the site, there are staff members working in the office during the closure who can be contacted with questions by phone or email.
According to a March 18 email release from Albrecht, the Maryville school district will provide a free meal service to all enrolled students beginning March 23 for the duration of the coronavirus shutdown. Students can take two free meals a day from district representatives by parking in front of Eugene Field Elementary School between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Albrecht also tweeted March 18 about online educational resources the Student Services Coordinator Brian Lynn put on the website for students to be able to access during the shutdown.
“Student Services Coordinator Mr Lynn has compiled some educational resources that parents might find helpful,” Albrecht said in a tweet. “There’s also nothing wrong with keeping it simple & just encouraging reading & exercise during this short break.”
But even with the administration acting quickly to provide these solutions, some frequently asked questions don’t have definitive answers since the situation is being monitored.
Maryville High School junior Gwynn Smail said her greatest concern is that she will have to continue classes online, since some students at the high school may not have internet access at home.
“The public library is now closed… so they can’t even go there for free internet,” Smail said.
Smail, who is also heavily involved in fine arts and band, has seen all of her spring competing events canceled. Concerts and competitions that ordinarily give senior members a last performance were taken away by precautions the school district and city are still trying to iron out.
“District solo and ensemble has been canceled, along with our percussion concert, band concert and state large group for band,” Smail said.
With extracurricular activities canceled, Smail said her biggest concern is a question yet to be answered.
“Whether or not we have to do school online has not been announced,” Smail said. “Also, we don’t know if we have to make it up at the end of the year.”
Albrecht said the Northwest Technical School is also closed until further notice due to being in the same building as the Maryville School District. The tech school provides secondary and higher education in technical fields, partnering with North Central Missouri College for some programs that allow for college credit.
Students who are attaining college credit while attending the NTS through will still be able to do so, but exact provisions have not been communicated to students as of March 18.
Students who are taking dual credit courses through Northwest have also not been contacted with information on how classes will be instructed.
Since the main NCMC campus has elected to continue with online classes for the rest of the Spring 2020 academic semester, classes may have to be altered at NTS when students come back April 6.
Albrecht said canceling school through April 3 means Maryville will likely not not make up non-conference sports that have been canceled, but that there may be an effort to make up conference games.
The varsity track meet at Northwest scheduled for March 21 is canceled and all athletic events, including boys tennis, baseball and girls soccer up to April 3 have all been canceled.
“It’s a short window for the postseason when we get back,” Albrecht said. “There are not great answers right now.”
Albrecht said the best thing for concerned families to do is pay attention to the updated website, checking every day for the latest information.
“That’s the best place to get up-to-date info,” Albrecht said. “Going forward from here, we will be providing meal services, working on academic resources and continuing to handle communication through a district funnel.”
Along with Maryville R-II, The West Nodaway R-I, Jefferson C-123, South Nodaway R-IV, Northeast Nodaway R-V, North Nodaway R-VI and Nodaway Holt R-VII school districts have canceled school through April 3. All Atchison County Schools will be closed through April 3 beginning March 19.