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The Blair Oaks R-2 School District Board of Education voted Tuesday to give all students and staff the entire week of Thanksgiving off.

Blair Oaks will be closed Nov. 23-24, and there will be no distance learning on these days. The district is already scheduled to be closed Nov. 25-27 with Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 26.

Superintendent Jim Jones said he wanted to give staff and students a couple extra days off to offer respite amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Teachers are trying to provide for everybody in person and everybody virtually," Jones said.

Teachers also have to keep track of which students are quarantined and when they're coming back to school, which is challenging, High School Principal Melinda Aholt said.

"That's the hard part right now, because you're wanting to make sure the children at home are getting a good education," she said.

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Students are also stressed out, especially students who are quarantined and have to catch up on tests and work, Aholt said.

Administrators sent a survey to staff asking which two extra days they would like to have off this semester, and the majority said they would like Nov. 23 and 24 off, Middle School Principal Kimberly Walters said.

They also sent surveys asking teachers if they would like a practice virtual day where students stay home and practice virtual learning, and 70 percent said yes, Walters said.

The district is considering a practice virtual day, but a final decision has not yet been made. The district is also considering doing virtual instruction instead of having days off for snow days.

As of Tuesday, the district has 11 COVID-19 cases among students and staff, including six staff cases and five student cases, according to data provided by the district. This is 0.4 percent of students in the district and 0.8 percent of students and staff total.

The district has 135 students in quarantine from close contact to a COVID-19 case, but only 31 of these were close contacts to cases at school.

About 11 percent of students were out of school as of Tuesday, according to the data.

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