As rural Northwest Missouri schools continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, one facility closed for two days after an overwhelming number of students were placed in quarantine.

South Nodaway R-IV Superintendent Dustin Skoglund announced a two-day shutdown last week after more than 25% of the student body fell ill or was placed into quarantine.

“With a large percentage of our students in quarantine, our administrative team elected to cancel and make those days up at a time when more students could be present for in-person learning,” Skoglund said in an email. “We will continue to work closely with our local agencies to provide a safe educational environment for our children.”

Skoglund declined an interview request, citing scheduling conflicts with the school reopening on Tuesday. South Nodaway’s school was closed Sept. 2 and 3.

According to a letter sent to parents and obtained by the Maryville Forum, more than 50% of seventh through 12th graders were absent because of the coronavirus. Some 18% of students absent have return dates this week.

Starting Tuesday, the school will have a mandatory mask policy for 10 days in an attempt to curb infections. In an email to News-Press NOW, Skoglund said the school would schedule makeup days but did not specify a timeline.

Savannah R-III’s middle school instituted a mandatory mask policy Tuesday after more than 8% of students were sick or quarantined. A spokesperson for the district didn’t respond to a request for comment, though the mandate was confirmed in a post on the district’s website.

The district did not release the exact number of students absent because of the coronavirus. Savannah’s policy on masks, required if more than 8% of students are absent for a reason related to the coronavirus, is similar to one employed by Mid-Buchanan R-V.

Mid-Buchanan Superintendent Jay Albright told News-Press NOW he’s “always” thinking about COVID-19. Masks are not currently required in the district because less than 8% of students and staff are absent with COVID-19 or in quarantine.

“I’ll be honest ... I’m always thinking about this,” Albright said. “It just seems to not escape me.”

Albright said one student is currently absent with a confirmed case of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, and six more are absent and in quarantine, because they’re considered close contacts.

In contrast to Savannah and Mid-Buchanan, the St. Joseph School District requires masking by students and staff at all times.

Matt Hoffmann is a our lead investigative reporter. He can be reached at matt.hoffmann@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NpNowHoffmann.

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