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KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.

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

File photo, courtesy of Downtown Antiques
The Downtown Antique Mall is one of several businesses and restaurants on the historic court square in West Plains, Missouri.

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

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 

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.