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This article is free to all readers because it includes information important to public safety and health in our community.

The Maries County R-1 School District in Vienna has extended its virtual learning period by another week.

The district switched to virtual learning Oct. 23 due to a large increase in positive COVID-19 cases.

The Phelps-Maries County Health Department recommended extending it by another week, Superintendent Mark Parker said. In-person classes are now scheduled to resume Nov. 9.

"After looking at positive case numbers, quarantines and staffing issues that might arise, we took the recommendation to remain closed for an additional week to hopefully let things settle down a bit," Parker said.

As of Thursday morning, the district had about 15 active cases among staff and students with at least one new case, Parker said.

About four staff have positive cases, and about five are quarantined from being close contacts to those cases or other cases, he said.

Parker estimates 65-70 students are in quarantine because they were close contacts or in isolation because they have COVID-19. The district has an enrollment of about 460 students.

"The numbers are still where they were the week prior, if not just a little bit higher," he said.

Events and activities will resume while following the COVID-19 safety protocols. Students who have active cases or are in quarantine cannot participate in events and activities.

"We feel like we can continue doing that safely throughout this time," Parker said.

To pick up meals for students during the closure, call Amy Rowden ahead of time at 573-422-3240.

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