Boonville schools return to virtual learning for high school students

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
The Boonville R-I School District will pause with extracurricular activities until December 26 after a rise in cases at Boonville High School. Boonville Superintendent Sarah Marriott said students at BHS, BTEC and Alternative School will also go virtual learning for the rest of the semester.

Schools within the Boonville R-1 School District have returned to virtual learning

Boonville High School, Boonslick Technical Education Center and the Boonville High School Alternative School all transitioned and will conduct virtual learning through the end of the semester Dec. 22. 

It was a tough decision but one that had to be made based on the number of COVID-19 cases, Superintendent Sarah Marriott said. 

The district looked at health information from the weekend that indicated an increasing number of quarantined or isolated high school students. 

“With the increasing numbers, we felt that it was our responsibility as a district to take action, which unfortunately meant moving to virtual instruction for the (high) school level,” Marriott said. “We focused on that particular age level of students because that’s the age level that is impacting currently."

Increases have not been observed at the middle and elementary school levels. Students at the middle school and elementary schools will continue in-seat education. Second semester starts Jan. 5. 

Virtual learning for students at the high school and its alternative school and the technical center started Monday. 

There were 80 students in quarantine or isolation as of Friday morning. 

“That is a significant number for our high school and it’s increasing right now, which is very unfortunate,” Marriott said. “Our district has experienced bumps this semester and I had hoped we would make it another seven days because we were so close to that finish. But, we have to take a step back and think about what’s best for our kids."

For high school and technical center students, they still will report to classes online during regularly assigned times. Instruction will take place through Zoom. 

The District also has postponed all extracurricular activities and practices through Dec. 25. The district will re-evaluate the situation at that time to determine if activities can resume after Dec. 24. 

Practices could resume Dec. 26 after the safety concerns evaluation, Athletic Director Chris Shikles said. 

COVID-19 has had definite impacts on the basketball teams. 

The Lady Pirates had two starters quarantined at the start of the semifinal round game against Hallsville on Dec. 9. Three starters on the boys team were quarantined for the semifinal round against Harrisburg on Thursday. 

The Boonville boys and girls were both the No. 1 seeds in the Centralia Tournament. The boys third place game on Saturday was canceled. The girls, however, went ahead and played their third place game on Friday.

The wrestling team no longer will participate in meets after the Dec. 12 Versaille's Tournament. The team will not participate in two triangulars or two tournaments during the pause. 

They were scheduled to participate in a triangular against Centralia and Hannibal on Saturday, followed by the Blair Oaks (Girls) Tournament on Sunday, Tri-County Conference Tournament in Eldon on Dec. 18-19, and in a triangular against Osage and Hallsville on Dec. 22. 

The Boonville Pirates wrestling team could next compete Jan. 7 in a triangular against Eldon and Versailles at Eldon.

The Boonville boys and girls basketball teams, meanwhile, had to postpone home games Tuesday and Thursday against Fulton and Moberly. The next girls' game could happen Jan. 2 at South Callaway while, the boys may travel to Blair Oaks Jan. 8.

District health coordinator Vicki Friedrich will continue to collect health department information over the next several weeks, Marriott said. 

“Vicki and I will continue to converse and discuss where our numbers are at, and certainly if things don’t improve or continue to escalate, then we may have to make some decisions about the second semester,” she said, “Right now, we’re hoping that this brief pause will allow the students to stay home, get healthy and reduce the exposure to others.”

The district is working on developing plans for hotspot distribution and meal distribution and will share that information soon. Hotspots will be provided to students who need them to access technology at home.

“We are sending a survey to complete if a student needs a hotspot,” Marriott said. “Additionally, we are sending a survey to complete for student meal service during the virtual instruction period.”

Parents can contact Julie Kueckelhan, technology assistant, at jkueckel@bpsk12.net for hotspots. Also, during the virtual instruction period, parents may also contact Glenda Curnette, food service director, at glenda.curnette@bpsk12.net.