Gov. Parson closes schools for the rest of spring

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson ordered all schools across Missouri to remain closed for the remainder of the school year, as well as issued a statewide stay-at-home order.

On April 9, Gov. Parson ordered all Missouri schools to extend closures until the end of the school year. Nutritional services and specific childcare services can continue to operate. Parson said schools should continue their current online learning until the end of the semester.

Kaitlin Smith is a first year, first grade teacher at Minnie Cline Elementary School in Savannah, Missouri. Her school has remained closed since March 23. Smith said she is saddened by the closure but feels it is best for the safety of students.

“It’s not a snow day. It’s not a vacation. It’s a reality adjustment and right now, even though it’s devastating, it is the best option for students and faculty,” Smith said.

Smith said she never imagined this is how her first year of teaching would end. She said even though she keeps in touch with her students through Zoom sessions, it is not the same as seeing them everyday in class. Smith said she thinks this experience will positively impact her teaching career.

“This experience has made me realize not to take anyone or anything for granted because it can all be taken away from you within a second. I can’t wait to get back into my classroom and keep doing what I love,” Smith said.

On April 6, a stay-at-home order authorized by Gov. Parson went into effect. It is currently scheduled to be in effect until April 24. The order will be re-evaluated before that date to determine if an extension is necessary.

The order restricts the movement of Missouri citizens and orders that social distancing is maintained. People are allowed to leave their homes to go to work, the grocery store, receive health care or engage in other activities deemed necessary. People are also allowed to engage in outdoor activities and go to places of worship as long as social distancing is respected.

Any retail store that remains open as an essential business must limit the number of people in their business. If a business is less than 10,000 square feet, the maximum occupancy is reduced to 25% its original capacity. If a business is more than 10,000 square feet, the maximum occupancy is further reduced to 10%. 

Social gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited. Social distancing must be adhered to in all situations, with at least six feet between people.

Dine-in options for restaurants are no longer available. Restaurants will still have the option for delivery or curbside pickup. Bars will remain closed for the duration of the order. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities will be closed to the public for the safety of those living there.

The order emphasizes that people are still allowed to leave their homes if necessary.

“This Order does not prohibit people from accessing essential services, such as grocery stores, gas stations and banks, or engaging in outdoor recreation, provided that necessary precautions are taken and maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19,” the stay-at-home order states.