Back To School: How County Classrooms Could Look In Fall

Joyce Coates
County Reporter
The number of positive COVID-19 cases has increased dramatically in several cities throughout the country, causing heated debates over extending school shutdowns that were mandated in March. Teachers and parents nationwide feel the stress of uncertainty, but no greater than the K-12 students themselves feel, wondering if they will be able to return to classrooms in the Fall and to some semblance of normal. 
School officials and governors in some cities and states insist it is safer for students to continue studying at home via online classes. Others suggest the possibility of alternating between in-class attendance for a few days per week and home-based, online study the remaining days. 
Officials of Benton County school districts, leaving room for alternative arrangements that may become necessary, are moving forward, thoughtfully, with plans to reopen schools.
“We are really looking forward to seeing our students,” Lincoln R-2 district superintendent, Kevin Smith, said. Plans are to reopen classrooms, and to begin the new school year on Tuesday, August 25. 
“Many people want to know the plans for the beginning of the school year. The COVID-19 crisis changes things weekly. We are still gathering ideas on what we can do start school as normal as possible.  We are six weeks out before the first day, so a lot can change.”  
As for now, R-2 school bus routes have not changed, he said, but they are planning for alternatives in the event they become necessary. Kindergarten orientation is scheduled for August 10 at the school. 
“Letters will be mailed out at the beginning of August,” said Smith, “giving the 7-12 grade students time slots for picking up their class schedules.” 
At this time, Smith expects sports and athletic events will be held according to schedule, with spectators allowed; so far no changes have been made to those programs. He emphasized, however, that things are still in a planning stage. For updates as the start date gets closer, he recommends the school community follow the school website, (, and the Facebook page ( More information will be available in August.
In Warsaw, R-9 district superintendent, Shawn Poyser, said district schools plan to reopen on August 25, per the 2020-2021 district Calendar. 
The COVID Re-entry Plan, detailed on the school website  (, is being updated this week, and may have a few changes. The School Board meets this week, as well.
“We are also presenting An Alternative Method of Instruction (submitted to DESE on July 14) in case we are not in school, “ Poyser added. 
Poyser said enrollment in Summer school, ongoing since July 7, for ECSE, Pre-K, and 1st through 5th grades totals 265, few than expected and with too few Middle School students to conduct classes at that level. Students were put back in the grades they were in as of the shutdown in March.
“They are thankful to be back in school,” Poyser said is the only feedback received.
As of yet, no changes have been made for the Fall term, although bus routes were limited for Summer school. In the Fall, seats will be assigned, and family members will sit together.
About the recent $130M budget cuts to education funding imposed by Governor Parson, Poyser said the district projects a 5 percent cut in state formula money, or from $250-$300K. That in mind, so far there have been no changes to programs for Arts, Drama, or Music. The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) is giving its guidelines (for Sports-Athletics programs) on Wednesday, July 15.  
Cole Camp, R-1 school district classes begin on Wednesday, August 26. The district’s Facebook page ( also links to the Smart Start Registration Form for Students. 
Smart Start back-to-school supply program is available to all K-12 students in Benton County. Registration forms are available at Benton County Health Department in Warsaw; at Farmers Bank in Lincoln, and at Citizen’s Farmers Bank in Cole Camp.
To participate in the school supplies distribution, submit registrations at the Benton County Health Department by Friday, July 17 to be eligible. Smart Start will be held in conjunction with the Benton County Resource Fair at John Boise Middle School from 3 – 6 PM, August 4. 
Go to Smart Start’s Facebook page at:, or Contact Larry Johnson at (207) 266-2933 for more information.