For up-to-date information on coronavirus in Pike County, see here.

LOUISIANA – Spring breaks will be extended at every school district in Pike County, keeping students out of classrooms for almost three weeks in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The virus had already closed several school districts in the St. Louis area and districts across Illinois. It is also forcing other Pike County entities to take new precautions. Eight people in Missouri and 105 in Illinois have tested positive for the virus so far, according numbers maintained by state health departments.

Local superintendents came to the decision during a meeting with officials from the Pike County Health Department the morning of Monday, March 16.

The Louisiana R-II and Bowling Green R-I school district, which entered spring break Monday, will extend that break through Monday, April 6. Pike County R-III, which includes Clopton and the Pike-Lincoln Technical Center, and BONCL R-X initially planned to close starting Thursday, March 19, but decided later in the day Monday to call off school Tuesday.

In what BONCL Superintendent Cassie Huckstep-Spangler characterized as “an abundance of caution,” local superintendents said they hoped to protect students and the people sick stu dents might, in turn, infect. Reports so far suggest that children and young people are not most at risk from the virus, but they can serve as carriers bringing older people and those with compromised immune systems into contact with the disease.

“We appreciate everybody’s support as we work through this time,” Pike R-III Superintendent Mark Harvey said. “We want to do what’s best for our school community and our neighbors as well.”

Superintendent indicated that they were looking into ways to provide educational services and school meals to students who relied on them while they were out of session.

In the meantime, Smith encouraged parents to set an example for their children.

“Practice proper handwashing and social distancing, but also be mindful that our children look to us for guidance. Model calm behavior and help reassure them that the adults in their lives are doing everything in their power to keep them safe,” Smith said.

 The federal Center for Disease Control has reccomended against gatherings of more than 50 people while the pandemic is underway ­— advice reinforced Monday by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

Parson had advised school districts to consult  local health authorities about closing  school. Across the Missisissipi, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced last week that schools across Illinois would be closed by Tuesday.

The Missouri Department of Health has launched a 24-7 hotline to answer questions about the developing COVID-19 situation. It can be reached at 877-435-8411. CDC resources around the outbreak can be found online at cdc.gov.

PCMH takes further steps to prevent spread

Pike County Memorial Hospital will be closed to all outside visitors and vendors for the next two weeks.

It’s one of a series of measures announced Monday to head off a spread of COVID-19 through the healthcare system.

PCMH employees and vendors still on site will be screened for fevers.

Among other measures, the Louisiana clinic, located on-site at PCMH, will be closed, with patients diverted to another location. The Emergency Department will remain open, with patients screened for fevers before they enter the building.

The announcement noted that PCMH will only screen patients based on CDC recommendations. If patients have a fever or are feeling ill, PCMH asks that they call ahead to the Bowling Green walk-in clinic instead of coming in.

Local nursing homes have also imposed restrictions on visitors in an effort to keep the virus out of their facilities.

Send questions and comments to athorp@pikecountynews.com.

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