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

UPDATE: See Fulton elementary schools, South Callaway high school pivot to virtual learning

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Bartley, Bush and McIntire elementary schools in Fulton will move to distance learning Wednesday.

More than 40 Fulton Public Schools staff members are quarantining or otherwise unavailable, leaving the district unable to effectively maintain in-seat instruction, according to a Monday update from the district.

This follows an announcement last week that sent Fulton middle and high school students home — that closure, originally projected to end Nov. 16, has been extended to match the elementary school closures.

All students are now expected to return to the classroom Nov. 30.

The only Fulton students still in-seat are at the Fulton Early Childhood Center, which, despite its own temporary closure ending last week, is slated to remain open.

Regardless of whether students are at home or in the building, learning will continue.

Elementary students will be sent home Tuesday with Chromebooks and materials for learning at home. Older students should have taken home the tools they need to continue coursework last week.

Much of distance learning relies on internet access. The district has hotspots available for any household that needs one. To request a hotspot, visit forms.gle/PnkiPSiTfzpKAQvt5.

Meals will be available for students through the Grab and Go program. Each day from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., families can visit Fulton High School or McIntire Elementary School for contact-free food delivery.

As had been discussed at many school board meetings across Mid-Missouri, one of the largest challenges is staffing during a pandemic. When staff members have to quarantine, it makes it difficult for schools to keep students on-site, even if case counts are low.

Both the South Callaway R-2 School District and New Bloomfield R-3 School District pivoted to distance learning for short periods earlier this fall.

On Friday, Fulton Public Schools reported 14 active cases among staff and students, while 206 individuals were at home in quarantine due to potential exposure.

According to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, reporting data as of Sunday, there have been 1,941 cases thus far in Callaway County, with 307 new cases between Oct. 31 and Friday.

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