FHSD Cancels School Amid COVID-19 Concerns

FHSD suspends school and activities until April 6

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FHSD website

A banner across the FHSD website describes the suspension of school and activities across the district

By Kayla Reyes and Kierigan McEvoy

Amid COVID-19 concerns, the Francis Howell School District has suspended all classes and activities for an extended two-week period after spring break. School is scheduled to resume on Monday, April 6. This may come as a shock to students and their families, but Superintendent Mary Hendricks-Harris maintained this action as completely necessary in a district-wide e-mail.

“This action is necessary, and we are saddened by the fact that we will not be able to provide our students with structure, learning, and community,” Hendricks-Harris said.

Despite FHSD’s assurance that district-wide cancellation is the best option, there is still much anxiety about what will happen during the next three weeks. Activities Director Scott Harris says that, while it is not optimal, activity cancellation is in the best interest of students and staff.

“While it is disappointing to put the spring sports & activities on hold, I know the Francis Howell School District took everything into consideration and are following the advice of medical personnel in regards to this decision,” Mr. Harris said. “The safety of our student-athletes, coaches and faculty members is always the most important thing and I’m sure the District will keep us informed of any changes moving forward.”

For senior Eric Peasel, the cancellation did not come as a surprise. However, he still has worries about the remainder of the athletic season.

“Honestly, I expected it to happen in order to contain the virus, so I hope this helps our area and our country as a whole. I’m excited for an extended break from school, but at the same time saddened about not being able to play volleyball,” Peasel said. “I was really looking forward to it as it’s my last season and I believe we already will be missing seven games. Hopefully we’ll be able to resume eventually and finish the season without missing the rest of our games.”

Senior Sydney Aleksick’s worries come in a different fashion.

“I’m kind of nervous to see what in the future we have planned. Prom is kind of a worry and I know 4.0 lunch is coming up. I don’t know if that’s going to be rescheduled,” Aleksick said.

Despite her dissatisfaction with the current events, Aleksick understands the significance of this situation and urges her peers to take it more seriously.

“I feel like these precautions should have been taken more seriously earlier on. It was kind of pushed off as a joke,” Aleksick said. “I mean any virus or any flu can be scary, and I think a lot of people pushed it off as a joke when it should have been taken a lot more seriously.”

Though senior Catherine Analla is understanding of this situation, she feels worry and dejection amidst the dull end of her senior year.

“[I’m] kind of sad honestly because all of my friends who have graduated already said that senior year, towards the end, is just really exciting because all of the work that you’ve done the past four years you get to see it pay off,” Analla said. “It feels like it’s almost being taken away and it is just kind of upsetting for everyone. There’s nothing we can do about it because it’s just a big crisis and I think we all kind of understand where the cancellations are coming from but there’s nothing we can do about it but just wait and hope for the best.”

Dr. Mary Hendricks-Harris’ letter to students and parents closing schools through April 3

We have been working in collaboration with the St. Charles County Health Department and St. Charles County Government regarding the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). After a meeting this evening, we have decided to close all FHSD schools through April 3, 2020, with classes set to resume April 6. The closure also includes Vacation Station, which is effective starting March 16. All extracurricular activities and outside organization events are also canceled until further notice.

This action is necessary, and we are saddened by the fact we will not be able to provide our students with structure, learning, and community. I know how difficult it is for families when school is not in session. There are many questions about next steps and schedules. This is a continually changing situation, so it is difficult to be definitive in planning.

We are working on at-home activities if an extension is needed. In addition to the alternative learning support, the District is working on takeout meals that could be provided at several sites across our District. More information will be provided in the next few days.

Our amazing custodial and maintenance staff will deep clean our buildings. The cleaning will include wiping down the hard surfaces, treating our floors, and disinfecting toys and athletic equipment. The cleaning plan was developed with the assistance of the St. Charles Health Department.

Throughout our closure, we ask that students and staff follow the CDC guidance – practice social distancing, stay in, wash your hands, and practice good respiratory hygiene. Contact the St. Charles County Health Department or your primary care physician should you have any Coronavirus symptoms.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these uncharted times together and do our part to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.

This story was originally published on FHC Today on March 15, 2020.