COVID-19 case delays school start, Prayer Walk continues

Photo by Christy Porter

The community gathered to pray for the school at the Third Annual Prayer Walk Sunday.

Licking R-VIII Schools were scheduled to begin the 2020-2021 school year Tuesday, Aug. 25. Teachers and staff prepared for the new year with staff meetings last week, on Aug. 18 and 19. Their preparations were cut short on Wednesday when the TCMH Clinic in Licking confirmed a new case of COVID-19 affecting a school staff member.

The Texas County Health Department was in charge of completing contact tracing and was to notify individuals who needed to isolate or quarantine. The district also directly contacted staff members who may have been exposed to COVID-19. That evening, the school board met in emergency closed session to discuss the implications of this diagnosed case.

The school district released the information after their emergency board meeting that the start of the 2020-2021 school year would be postponed until Tuesday, Sept. 8. This will allow staff to complete their quarantine period and be ready to return to work in time to start the school year.

“We will continue to take preventative measures to ensure the safety of our students,” ensured the district on their Facebook page.

Because the Rolla School District was not affected by this postponement, students attending Rolla Technical Institute (RTI) and Rolla Technical College (RTC) began as scheduled on Tuesday, Aug. 25, meeting the bus in the high school parking lot by 7:50 a.m.

The Backpack Program will begin the first week of school, on Friday, Sept. 11, for those enrolled in the program.

Photos by Christy Porter
 Perhaps more important than ever was the Third Annual Prayer Walk for Licking R-VIII, held on Sunday, Aug. 23. Over 30 teachers, staff, ministers, retired teachers, students and members of the community participated in the event, which took place outside of the facilities this year due to COVID-19. Supt. Cristina Wright gave her full cooperation with the event and was in attendance. Teacher liaison Billie Krewson spoke to attendees of the assurance of God’s presence. Pastor Erin McConnell of Licking Pentecostal Holiness Church led a group prayer, then Delta Hernandez, organizer of the prayer walk, invited the group to walk the school grounds, surrounding them with prayer for the students, parents, faculty, staff, board, buildings and buses.



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