FHSD Extends School Closure to April 24 to Slow COVID-19 Spread


By Emily Hood and Phoebe Primeau

FHSD and all other St. Charles County schools will be closed through April 24 to help contain COVID-19. All athletic and after-school activities will also be canceled during this time. 

“If the virus spreads as rapidly or as easily as experts say it does, then putting, in our case, about 1800 people in one building and throughout the district, many several thousand people in several different buildings in contact with one another is going to make that a whole lot worse,” Head Principal Nathan Hostetler said.

District officials are having regular briefings with local health officials to discuss the state of COVID-19 in the county and seek guidance on decisions regarding future events.

“Right now, there’s a county wide ban on gatherings of over 10 people. Well, we’re literally orders of magnitude beyond that,” Hostetler said. “In order to be able to return to school, it has to be lawful for us to do so, but we also need to be wise. We need to have reassurances from health officials that this is good for kids, good for adults, good for people.”

Many events have also been altered due to COVID-19 precautions. While state competitions for spring sports have not been canceled, athletes are not allowed to practice while school is closed. All statewide end-of-course exams have been canceled and Prom has been rescheduled to May 22.

“I’m glad [Prom] is able to still happen and rescheduled to a better time,” senior Jenna Thompson said. “It’s very nice to hear the seniors still get their last one.”

Students will be communicating with their teachers and completing coursework online throughout the closure. Teachers should have contacted their students yesterday to explain guidelines for each class, and instruction will begin on March 30 with review material. Beginning the week of April 6, new material will be covered in all classes. 

“A lot of times when people in schools transition to online learning, they have a year or two years to plan and prep and build courses,” Hostetler said. “Rather than really doing true online learning, in this case, we’re taking traditional learning from a traditional setting and trying to deliver it online.”

No decisions have been made at this time surrounding 4th quarter grades. FHSD has created an online learning website where students can contact teachers and see coursework. Many classes also have their own forms of online learning systems such as Google Classroom and Schoology. 

“I have never been a fan of online learning,” Thompson said. “It’s never a guarantee that students have [online] access, which prolongs their learning. I feel online learning is a step toward college and due to circumstances, I believe it was the right call. However, I also believe many students will fall behind.”

FHSD will provide five days worth of meals to families in need throughout the school closure. These meals can be picked up from 3-5 p.m. every Tuesday at Francis Howell North High School, Francis Howell Central High School or Hollenbeck Middle School. Families in need of assistance should fill out this form.

This week, students and faculty participated in the #FHSDbettertogether virtual spirit week to help create a sense of community and support students who may be struggling during this transition.

“We work really hard to put eyes on each student, each faculty member, just kind of checking in on one another,” Hostetler said. ‘It’s so much harder to do that, so this is a time when people need to self-advocate and just reach out to a friend or a trusted adult and tell them that they’re struggling.”