Ryan Delaney | KBIA

Ryan Delaney

Originally from Burlington, Vermont, Ryan has worked for Northeast Public Radio in Albany, The Allegheny Front in Pittsburgh, and WAER in Syracuse, where his work was honored by the Syracuse Press Club. His reporting has also aired on New Hampshire Public Radio and Vermont Public Radio.

Ryan has a degree in broadcast journalism and international relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

Friday night lights may shine on rural Missouri football fields, but the prospect of a fall sports season in the St. Louis metro area is looking dimmer.

The state’s athletics organization is moving forward with having a sports season open Aug. 10 but is leaving the decision on whether it’s safe to field a team to the local level. Restrictions on youth sports currently in place in St. Louis County are making it unlikely that teams there will be able to play when games begin Aug. 24. 

On a recent morning of summer school, students were met at the entrance of Gore Elementary School in Jennings with thermal temperature scanners. 

It’s just one sign of the new reality of school during a pandemic, along with masks, social distancing and alternating school days.

Suriyya Lawrence really wants to be a police officer.

But the 17-year-old rising high school senior from Jennings has been getting more doubtful looks and questioning of her choices by friends and family members this summer, as the nation’s focus hones in on the role of police and their relationship with the Black community.

Dozens of St. Louis teachers clung to a sliver of shade offered by the administrative building of St. Louis Public Schools on Monday, clutching signs displaying their fear of returning to the classroom during an unchecked pandemic.

The protest came a week before most districts in the St. Louis region are slated to release detailed plans for how they’ll try to safely bring people back inside classrooms next month for the new school year.

Federal money meant to help low-income families with food costs while kids were home from school this spring is reaching just 60% of Missouri’s eligible families.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer is a $5.40 a day allocation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that usually goes to high-poverty schools to feed their students. Instead this spring the P-EBT money was sent directly to families across the country as a one-time check of up to $302.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is calling on the state’s school districts to follow a national example and remove police officers from schools.

The ACLU has circulated a letter to nine school administrators so far, mostly in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, arguing the money spent on school resource officers, often referred to as SROs, should instead go to the social-emotional needs of children, such as by hiring more social workers and counselors.

Activists again took to streets, parks and intersections across the St. Louis region this weekend to call for an end to heavy-handed policing tactics.

At one point Sunday, simultaneous demonstrations were underway in Ballwin, St. Ann and St. Louis. More protests took place at other times throughout the weekend, including a caravan of dozens of cars that drove through the city’s central corridor, and a march in Webster Groves. 

More money will go toward early childhood education and services if St. Louis voters approve a property tax increase in November.

This month, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen placed a property tax levy on the Nov. 3 ballot that would increase the property tax rate by 6 cents.

Kyla Hawkins sat on the steps of St. Louis City Hall and tried to wipe the sweat off her face and the emotion off her mind. 

She leaned her forehead against her cardboard sign and collected herself.

Hawkins, who goes by Sunshine, had just walked nearly two miles Sunday afternoon under a 93-degree June sun along with thousands of others who gathered in downtown St. Louis to protest police brutality toward minorities, sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

There was a visible addition to the commencement regalia and pomp for McCluer North High School class of 2020: face masks.

When the seniors paraded into a parking lot at the former St. Louis Mills Mall Sunday, they had face masks with their school’s logo and graduation year to match their caps and gowns. It was all part of an attempt to orchestrate a socially distanced graduation ceremony and give these teens a proper send-off after so much else in their senior year was missed.

This summer, there will be just as many kids at Camp Home as Camp Anawanna. 

While summer camps are allowed to resume Monday in St. Louis and St. Louis County under a list of public health restrictions, parents find they have fewer camp options and lingering safety concerns during the pandemic.

Magnet, charter, neighborhood, choice: The different types of schools in urban public education can be a lot to decipher, even a few decades into the so-called “school choice” era.

A website that helps St. Louis parents pilot it all has relaunched with updated data and a new name. 

Colleges and universities in the St. Louis region are starting to piece together plans for how students can return to their campuses for the fall semester, with plenty of emergency escape hatches built into those blueprints.

“We will definitely have a fall semester,” Rob Wild, Washington University’s interim vice chancellor for student affairs, said in a letter to students late last month, adding, “our strong preference is to have an ‘in-person’ experience, where students, faculty, and staff can be together on campus as a full community. However, we may need to make some changes.”

Lynn Weaks doesn’t have internet access at home. A smartphone, she said, “was basically all I had.”

Her four children often stayed after school at Ashland Elementary School in St. Louis, which gave them access to tablets to do homework. On the weekends, if they needed to log online to do schoolwork, they’d head to the public library. 

That all changed in March when the pandemic forced schools — and libraries — to close. 

There’s now a template for how in-class learning will look once schools reopen in Missouri. Complying with it all will require some complicated geometry.

The Missouri School Boards’ Association’s Center for Education published a nearly 100-page guidebook for schools on how to operate while navigating a pandemic. It calls for more cleaning and hygiene while eliminating or curtailing in-school activities like choir, recess and gym class, as well as many after-school ones.

Updated at 3:40 p.m. , May 6, with comment from St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

St. Louis and St. Louis County will start easing up on coronavirus public health restrictions on May 18, allowing businesses to reopen with some restrictions.

Any St. Louis County businesses wanting to reopen will be required to make its employees wear face masks. County Executive Sam Page announced that mandate at a Wednesday morning press briefing. He plans to release more details and rules in the coming days.

Washington University’s residential advisors want financial compensation after being “randomly evicted” over email while scattered across the country for spring break.

With college campuses closed around the nation and students finishing up the semester from childhood bedrooms, older students enlisted as resident advisors are no longer needed to chaperone freshman dormitories.

Carondelet Leadership Academy, a decade-old charter school in south St. Louis, will close permanently after this current academic year.

The school’s administration and its sponsor tried to implement turnaround strategies without success, and so the Missouri Charter Public School Commission said last month it will not renew the school’s charter for another five years.

As the coronavirus pandemic shutdown drags on, some schools are considering holding graduation in July or even August.

But two St. Louis entrepreneurs are offering another option: robots.

The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus could roll back state investments in pre-K made since the last recession.

That’s the dire warning in the latest preschool yearbook from the National Institute for Early Education Research, which looks at states’ spending on pre-K during the 2018-19 school year.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. with comments from the chief health care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges

Washington University’s health care system is planning large-scale furloughs to deal with financial losses, even as parts of it scramble to handle a rush of COVID-19 patients.

Furloughed employees will be off work without pay but will still receive university benefits such as health insurance. 

Furloughs could affect up to 1,300 university employees and last up to 90 days, Chancellor Andrew Martin said Monday.

A small plexiglass window peeks from behind a curtain. 

Families will have 15 minutes to grieve through that window, looking at a loved one’s body sheathed in a barcoded body bag. Police chaplains will be at the ready to lead prayers or offer consoling words.

Construction workers under the orders of St. Louis County officials are hurriedly erecting a morgue in an industrial park warehouse, surrounded by UPS distribution facilities, in Earth City. 

Parents are anxiously looking at the summer calendar for when they can get kids out of the house and into the responsible watch of teachers and summer camp counselors. 

Educators and camp leaders, however, say that for the most part, it’s still too early to say for sure.

Missouri schools will not reopen for the remainder of the academic year, Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday afternoon.

"I am ordering all Missouri public and charter schools to remain closed through the remainder of this academic year with the exceptions of nutrition services and child care that are outlined in our recent health order," Parson said.

Food service employees are among the few workers in school districts physically reporting for work every day during the pandemic lockdowns, joining front-line efforts to keep needy kids fed and safe.

“Our jobs are not necessarily monetarily driven, they’re more mission-driven,” said Irene Wan, director of Maplewood Richmond Heights School District’s food service division. “We’re here to serve people, we’re here to serve our families.”

Schools in the St. Louis region and around the nation have been closed for nearly a month, as one of many social distancing measures aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic stretches on. In place of classroom learning, schools have implemented instruction delivered virtually. 

While students can now attend school in their pajamas, it’s not all fun. They’re missing their friends and teachers, and older students will likely lose milestone moments, such as graduation.

St. Louis Public Radio wanted to know how students are adjusting and adapting to their new reality, so we asked them to tell us. Take a listen.

Sandy Kearney’s health was improving, she assured her friends and family. She even talked with her grandsons in a video chat from the hospital bed.

Co-workers, friends and family were all concerned when they learned Kearney had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus sweeping through the world. But Sandy, they prayed, they predicted, would be fine.

When St. Louis Public Schools was unexpectedly forced last month to hit the pause button on the school year and close all its buildings, it also had to pause its efforts to decide which schools to close for good.

SLPS was about halfway through a multi-month process to reimagine its physical presence throughout the city. The original public forums were held, but Superintendent Kelvin Adams never had a chance to present a plan to the school board. Now, it seems like a low priority.

Like parents around the country, Michelle Haffer never imagined having to become her child’s full-time teacher. But Haffer’s daughter is out of school and mostly stuck in the house.

And her daughter, Maddy, isn’t loving it.

“Well, she’s been struggling. It’s mostly the social distancing, in that nothing is open,” Haffer said.

There’s rising doubt among school leaders that their students will return to school this spring.

Most schools in the St. Louis area are closed through April 3, for now, to help contain the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. That date is starting to feel like just a placeholder for a more sustained closure.

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