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As COVID-19 Cases Climb, Two Rural Ozarks School Districts Temporarily Go Online

West Plains is the seat and largest city of Howell County.
File photo, courtesy of Downtown Antiques
West Plains is the seat and largest city of Howell County.
West Plains is the seat and largest city of Howell County.
West Plains, MO

As the coronavirus spreads through rural Missouri, KSMU asked school districts how they’re responding to rising case numbers.

Listen to the audio for this story here.

The director of the Howell County Health Department, Chris Gilliam, said the county had 86 active cases as of Monday and 14 of them are students or staff of schools.

Lana Snodgrass, a spokeswoman for Howell County’s largest school district, West Plains R-7 Schools, didn’t say how many active cases there were, but directed us to the district’s website for its coronavirus policies.  Teachers, staff, and students 5th through 12th grade are required to wear masks at school, and 15 percent are learning online.

Glenwood School, a rural K-8 district located in Howell County, has moved completely online until Tuesday, September 8, after multiple people there tested positive for COVID.  

The Alton school district is located in bordering Oregon County. The county had 50 COVID cases total as of Monday. The school district moved completely online last Tuesday (August 25th) after a school employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Eric Allen is the superintendent in Alton.  

“We will have social distancing. Masks will be encouraged, but not required. We have made alterations to how we do breakfast and lunch,” Allen said of the school's reopening policy. 

Allen said the Alton School District serves about 650 students.

More information: 

West Plains Return To Learn guide 

Copyright 2021 KSMU. To see more, visit KSMU.

Josh Conaway is a second year student at Missouri State University studying political science and Spanish. He works as news reporter and announcer for KSMU. His favorite part of working for KSMU is meeting a wide variety of interesting people for stories. He has a passion for history and running.