Parties, outside school events spike COVID cases and exposure, led to school closure

Missouri

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Parkway North High School pivoted to at-home learning Thursday after a recent spike in coronavirus cases and exposure.

The district sent a letter to families Wednesday alerting them the district would move to all virtual learning beginning Thursday and lasting until after spring break. Classes will resume in person on Monday, March 29. The district had about 20% of students in quarantine due to exposure, 15 positive test results among students, and more reporting symptoms and awaiting test results.

About 1,100 students are enrolled at Parkway North High School, but only 519 of them are enrolled for in-person learning at the high school. Of the 519 students, 31% of them were absent Wednesday due to COVID-related issues.

Parkway North High School Freshman Kendall Klepacki said she has never seen this many of her classmates quarantined at one time.

“I was disappointed because I was excited to be back, but I think it was a smart decision to keep us all safe,” Klepacki said. “I was starting to get nervous because I knew that it was becoming more dangerous.”

The district said it can’t rule our exposure at school, but their investigation has pointed to the cases stemming from parties and activities outside of school.

“Because it was outside of school and wasn’t really involving the district at all, the district can only do what they can do, parents need to be responsible for their own kids and if they’re making those decisions that’s the consequences that come out of it, unfortunately, it impacts all the other kids at school, not just those kids,” said Christopher Skiles, parent of a Parkway North High School student.

Sports and extracurricular activities are also canceled until students return, which meant a forfeited playoff basketball game Wednesday night.

“My son is no longer going to be doing practice for track for two more weeks, so he’s really down, because he really likes track and there’s a lot of extracurricular activities and stuff that the kids look forward to that they just can’t do now,” Skiles said.

North High Principal Tori Cain sent a letter to staff, parents and students Thursday afternoon and said the school started deep-cleaning the building Thursday using special cleaning procedures.

“I realize this temporary closure is both unexpected and disappointing. Thank you for your patience as we work through this together in order to maintain the health and safety of the North High community,” Cain said in her letter Thursday afternoon.

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