Schools see smooth start, despite early challenges

Derrick Forsythe, Correspondent
Posted 9/2/21

With one full week of classes in the books, area school districts are reporting a relatively smooth start to the 2021-22 school year. Wright City R-II welcomed students back to campus on Aug. 23, …

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Schools see smooth start, despite early challenges


With one full week of classes in the books, area school districts are reporting a relatively smooth start to the 2021-22 school year. Wright City R-II welcomed students back to campus on Aug. 23, while Warren County R-III followed the next day.

The past month of preparation hasn’t come without its challenges, nor did the first day.

While R-III is recovering from storm damage incurred in early August, Wright City dealt with storms on the opening day of school.

Warren County Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith is thankful classes were able to begin as planned, while the roof above the library at Daniel Boone Elementary is being replaced.

“We were able to adjust and come up with a plan to have school there,” said Klinginsmith. “They’ve got a temporary roof. Our librarian has pulled the most popular books and is still checking out books, but not with a full library.”

Last week crews were removing carpet in preparation for repair from water damage sustained during the thunderstorm. Meanwhile, items are being stored in a shed outside the library.

At R-II, a storm rolled in around dismissal time on the first day of classes, prompting staff to hold students for about 20 minutes for safety purposes.

“We had kids on the buses,” said R-II Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger. “After we got them on the bus we didn’t let them leave for a while.”

Changes in transportation can create challenges even with preparation, and both districts are making adjustments to their bus services.

R-II is under its first year of contract with new provider Ecco Ride, after a decade-long relationship with Durham Bus Services. Ecco Ride retained nearly all the district’s drivers and the transportation director.

“That’s been a pretty smooth transition,” said Berger. “Our community always expects there will be some delays that first few days or a week.”

R-III returned to expanded bus routes, offering bus services for students outside of a 1 mile radius from the buildings. This was a change from the 2.5-mile boundary followed during the 2020-21 school year as part of budget cuts.

There are a few areas in which the two districts differed during the opening week.

Wright City continues to see an increase in enrollment, up by 50 to 70 students to around 1,695 total this year. Only 22 of those students have chosen to learn virtually.

“We were growing for the last decade at that pace and dipped down a little bit last year,” said Berger. “It was a pleasant surprise to have them come back.”

Meanwhile, R-III enrollment remains consistently around the 3,100 mark, with nearly 97-percent opting for in-person learning.

Both districts saw minimal shifting in those numbers following the announcement of their differing COVID-19 protocols, with R-II opting for mandatory masking and R-III choosing the optional route.

The Wright City district has experienced the presence of COVID-19 within its population, with 10 positive cases during the first week. Berger believes the majority of those exposures did not take place at school and said the district was able to keep students who were in close contact in school thanks to the mask mandate.

“We’ve had 18 kids that would’ve been in quarantine, but because both parties were wearing masks appropriately, they were placed in modified quarantine instead,” said Berger. “That’s a conservative projection of 108 days of school being saved.”

Modified quarantine means the student can still come to school but must quarantine from extracurricular activities and while at home.

R-III has experienced lower case numbers, with just one positive that resulted in 15 students being quarantined during the first week. Klinginsmith said between 10 to 15 percent of students have been wearing face coverings in the buildings.

“We will monitor the situation, and when we have a case will have to quarantine students,” said Klinginsmith. “Although, it can be impossible to track exactly where people are getting the virus.”

Community members can monitor cases in the R-III district on the district’s COVID-19 dashboard located at


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