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.

“Barry and Lawrence county school districts have been in open conversation about challenges and questions regarding [differentiating] between things like the flu and allergies and virus symptoms, and we as school districts are not set up to be ables to provide the best guidance,” said Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent. “The wellness break is also in response to the concerns about people traveling and the CDC lowing their recommendation from avoiding group gatherings of 250 down to 50.”

Asbill said for the Cassville district, 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 give updates each week going forward after then,” he said.

Asbill said he is proud of school leaders for working together on such a tough issue.

“It is hard work and not an easy decision,” he said. “But, we understand that the children’s health is the first priority, and we are making this decision in their best interest.”

Asbill 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, while the wellness break is ongoing.


Beginning on Wednesday and continuing throughout the duration of the wellness break, the Purdy school district will provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner for all students aged 18 and under.

The service will be provided Mondays through Fridays. Each student will receive three bagged meals, one lunch and one dinner provided by Life 360, and one breakfast for the following day.

Meals may be picked up at the grab-and-go line on the north side of the school, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

People may get in the line and a volunteer will bring the meals to vehicles in front of the High School Gym.


Tosha Tilford, Southwest superintendent, said Southwest’s offices will remain open with teachers and staff coming in at certain times, not to exceed 50 on campus.

She said the district is also evaluating its food service plan.

“It’s a bit different for us [because of how spread out the district’s students are],” she said.

Tilford said she is looking into how to offer a meal service, possibly a bagged lunch for pick-up or delivery, while the wellness break is ongoing.


Ernest Raney, Exeter superintendent, said a grab-and-go meal service is being prepared at the Exeter district.

“DESE applied for waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide meals like that,” he said. “That was approved today and we are putting the details together for our service and we will communicate that to families.”


Lance Massey, Wheaton superintendent, said Wheaton will offer lunch and the next day's breakfast for pickup in a line in front of the elementary school from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The meals are part of the summer food program, therefore, the meals will be free to all children 18 and under.

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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