Breaking: Parkway extends school closures as COVID-19 outbreak intensifies

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PAWESEHI staff

A welcome sign stands outside the front entrance, which will not be open to the public through April 22.

The Parkway School District’s lockdown is just beginning.

With ‘stay-at-home’ mandates due to the COVID-19 pandemic now in effect throughout St. Louis City and St. Louis County, public school closures have been extended through April 22.

The announcement comes two days before Parkway is set to implement online learning. Students’ spring break was lengthened through March 24 to allow faculty time to prepare for remote instruction.

“During this emergency closure, there is no way to fully replicate an at-school experience within an online learning environment, nor should we try to do so,” Parkway said in a statement on the district website. “As we activate eLearning for Parkway students, our goals are [to] keep students connected to learning experiences during a prolonged school closure [and] provide some normalcy for students through engagement in learning activities and relationships with their teachers.”

Parkway distributed electronic devices to families March 22. The district intends to facilitate courses through the networking service Schoology.

“Using Schoology as our single point of access provides consistency for our Parkway families so you have one place to go for all of your classes. From their Schoology course, students will be able to access any materials and resources needed to complete work,” Parkway’s website says. “If your teacher uses a different platform, they will link from Schoology to that platform and give your students instruction for access to materials.”

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against gatherings of 50 or more people for the next seven weeks, Parkway is also tasked with meeting the needs of students beyond academics.

“We are experiencing an unprecedented time in history and one we did not expect. While our school buildings are closed, our commitment to our children, employees and families remains the same,” Parkway superintendent Keith Marty said in a districtwide statement. “Our teachers, staff and leaders are working hard to ensure that we can continue to provide support for our students.”

Parkway is providing free meals to students under the age of 18 at Fern Ridge High School on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. On the heels of a week that saw $21,118 in donations, the district is urging families to contribute to the Parkway Food Pantry.

“It is important to us to provide meals for our students and families in need during our closure. The Parkway Food Pantry will also remain open to provide meals to any family in the community that needs food during this time,” Parkway’s website says. “We have received requests from parents and staff asking how they can help our neighbors in need. Right now, one way to assist is by making a donation online to the Parkway Food Pantry.”