Cassville students, staff embark on new adventure

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

60 students across district choose virtual-only option

From preschool to twelfth grade, 1,903 Cassville students grabbed art boxes, backpacks and masks in preparation for the first day of school on Aug. 25.

The 2020-2021 school year first-day enrollment numbers are down by 18 students from the year before, and of the 1,828 students in K-12, 60 students are utilizing a fully virtual option.

Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent, said the 60 are spread out in several different buildings, but it is mainly third- through twelfth-grade students in virtual learning.

“We do have additional students in the high school doing virtual classes part-time,” he said. “They take traditional seated classes throughout the day and take virtual class to supplement classes. Those students are not counted in the 60.”

All in all, 120 students at Cassville are using some type of virtual platform for learning.

“We have two classes that tie for the largest this year,” Asbill said. “Eighth grade and the junior class have 152 each.”

These numbers correlate with last year’s numbers, which had the sophomore class at 163 students and the seventh graders at 155.

“The smallest is third grade with 127 students,” he said. “That class is the first class that Kinder Academy was offered to students. So, 15-20 of that original class got an extra year in Kinder Academy.”

The first day off school is always the most challenging, but Asbill said he is pleased with how this year’s first day went.

“We had a great first day,” he said. “It was amazing how flexible parents were with the drop off, social distancing and masking procedures.”

Asbill said the teachers were just as flexible, as well.

“They adjusted recess, lunch and hallway use,” he said. “It was different in each building, but everyone made great steps toward the next normal for this year.”

Asbill said the Cassville school district looked at the best options for giving everyone as much tradition as possible.

“That’s why I am saying next normal instead of new normal,” he said. “This isn’t new — we are just taking everything one step at a time, day by day.”

During the first few days of school, bus routes are always changing.

“Currently, we are seeing fewer riders on the buses, so that adds to the drop off traffic,” Asbill said. “That isn’t a bad thing. It helps us with social distancing on buses.”

Additionally, there are still several construction projects happening, which is changing the normal flow.

“I still couldn’t be more pleased with staff, parents and students for making the first day a success,” Asbill said.

The Cassville school district welcomed 10 new instructional staff members this year and three additional positions in response to COVID-19.

“The three new positions are to ensure more cleaning and sanitizing due to COVID-19,” Asbill said. “There are two in food service and one custodial.”

This year, the Cassville school district will focus on, “What can we achieve this week?”

“We are focused on teaching, learning and students’ goals,” Asbill said. “We will continue to be flexible and realize that things change in a day. When that happens, we will be prepared to adjust.

“I thank the community for working with us to offer the students and families we serve the best at this time.”

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