• April 9, 2020

    Lion Nation,

    As many of you may have heard, Missouri Governor Mike Parson has just announced that all Missouri public and charter schools will close for the rest of this school year due to the COVID-19 virus. 

    While this is news I was hoping to never have to deliver, we knew it might be a reality as the nation and region try to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

    Rest assured Lion Nation, we will continue to proceed as we had planned by staying connected to our students and families. Our continued relationship with our students and families is critical during this time.  Although buildings are closed, we will continue with our e-learning and alternative instruction plans. Students will continue to receive learning opportunities and support from Northwest teachers and staff. We also plan to continue meal service during the closure. As mentioned in a letter sent this morning, the school year for Northwest R-I will formally end on May 22. For more information, visit https://www.northwestschools.net/coronavirusinformation.

    I can assure you that Northwest R-I will continue to communicate and stay connected with students, families, staff, and the entire community. This is a bump in the road not only for Lion Nation, but for the entire world. We have had to adjust to our circumstances and our “new normal” for the foreseeable future, do what we can to help flatten the curve by staying home whenever possible and practicing social distancing when we cannot. We must remain resilient, and together, we will get through this. Now more than ever we need each other. We will stay connected and we will grow stronger.

    Stay safe and healthy, Lion Nation.

    Dr. Desi Kirchhofer
    Superintendent, Northwest R-I School District


    Student Meal Information

    Meal flyer While schools are closed, Northwest will continue to provide meals for children 18 and younger at no cost. Meals will be distributed in a "Grab and Go" style. We will continue to monitor the number of people entering the cafeteria, and we sanitize the area daily. We will continue to greet our families with a warm smile and kind hearts, but not with handshakes or high fives
     
    In order to minimize risk, we will serve meals in bulk.
    Next week, meals will be served on Monday, April 13 and Wednesday, April 15.
     
    All following weeks, will be Wednesdays ONLY. Students will receive five breakfasts and five lunches to last the week.
     
    The Maple Grove location time is now 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
    Location times for Valley and Brennan Woods remain the same:
    VMS—11 a.m.-noon (A-L) and noon - 1 p.m. (M-Z)
    BWE—11 a.m. - noon (A-L) and noon - 1 p.m. (M-Z)
     
    If you have already signed up through the form on the Coronavirus Information Page on our website, you do not need to do so again.
     
    It is not required that you sign up to receive meals.
     

    April 9, 2020

    Lion Nation,

    This experience has certainly been a unique, but in many cases, an incredible learning and growth opportunity. Our community has been amazing and I know this common experience will strengthen us.

    As we enter our Easter break with a much-deserved three-day weekend beginning tomorrow, I want to touch base with you with some new information about our school calendar.  Since we should be safe from additional inclement weather days, the big news to share with you is that our last day of school for students will be Friday, May 22. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has said that the days schools are closed due to  COVID-19 will be forgiven so we will not have to make up these hours. This makes sense considering all the teaching and learning that continues to occur during our recent closure.

    That leads me to the next topic: when we will come back to school? To be honest, we really don’t know. Our most recent closure has us out of school until April 27. Currently, health officials expect the virus to peak during the last week of April through the first week of May. That, however, does not mean that we will be coming back immediately, as the virus will still be prevalent and present. Obviously, when it is safe to reopen our schools and welcome back our students we will do so.  

    Earlier this week, I met with area superintendents from St. Louis and Jefferson County to discuss extended closures. It is not what we want to hear, but there is a distinct possibility that we will not be able to safely reopen schools this year. Jefferson County School Districts have another meeting with the Health Department and County Officials scheduled for Tuesday, April 14 to discuss our current status and review next steps. We will let you know as soon as we know anything more about the situation. I want to continue to be transparent with communication and provide you with the most updated information possible. 

    Speaking of COVID-19, the number of positive cases has been increasing, with Jefferson County reporting 95 cases. Much of the rise in numbers is due to increased availability of testing and correctly identifying symptoms. Even though it is likely we have had additional cases in our community, we are less likely to be informed by the Health Department due to the time we have been out of school and the risk of exposure.

    As we reported last week, a staff member from Maple Grove Elementary tested positive for the virus. I am happy to report the staff member is doing very well and fully recovered. The outpouring of support from Lion Nation for the staff member has been nothing short of amazing. It’s just one more reason our community is such a special place.

    I cannot thank you enough for your continued efforts to keep learning and staying connected. I want to wish you all a very happy Easter, Lion Nation. Although your traditions or plans may have changed this year, we are adaptable, we are resilient, and we are in this together. After all, we’ve got this.

    Stay healthy, stay safe and stay connected,
    Desi Kirchhofer


    All Northwest R-I School District Playgrounds and Facilities Closed Effective Immediately

    March 31, 2020
    6:10 p.m.

    Lion Nation, we know that many of you use the playgrounds, tracks, fields, and other outdoor spaces for exercise and enjoyment. While we normally welcome each and every one of you to use our facilities, which we have because of the tremendous community support for our district, we are currently under a “stay at home” order from the Jefferson County Health Department due to the COVID-19 virus. 

    Since we have no way of limiting the number of people gathering at our facilities, in the interest of public health, we are requesting your cooperation as we close all Northwest playgrounds, fields, and tracks until the “stay at home” order is lifted. These closures are effective immediately.

    We want to remind you that the purpose of the closing of our schools and facilities is to aid in keeping our community healthy. As tempting as it is to get out of the house, especially as temperatures warm, please limit your trips away from home to necessities.

    Our community is one that takes care of each other, especially in times like these. We thank you, Lion Nation, for your patience, understanding, and cooperation.


    March 31, 2020

    Lion Nation,

    I realize that it sometimes seems there is an information overload from either the district or your children’s teachers. We never want to overwhelm you with information, but we feel this is pertinent and wanted to inform you immediately. That is why I write today, to let you know of a COVID-19 issue that impacts our community while also respecting privacy laws. 

    Today, the Jefferson County Health Department confirmed that a Northwest staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. The staff member works at Maple Grove Elementary. The staff member did not exhibit any symptoms while school was in session and students were present. However, the staff member did make a brief visit to the building on Friday, March 20 and has not been on campus since.

    The Jefferson County Health Department will be in contact with anyone at risk of exposure from the staff member. Northwest is cooperating fully while assisting the health department, and we ask for your understanding as the district cannot release any personally identifiable information due to privacy laws.

    Please know that our primary concern is for the health and safety of our students and community. If you or a family member develop a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, you should call your primary care provider before any visit or contact the Missouri State Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline at 877-435-8411, or the Jefferson County Health Department at 636-797-3737 extension 210. You can also visit the CDC website or Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) website, for more information. 

    As we send this communication, Jefferson County has 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and anticipates more positive cases as the testing increases. We are in frequent contact with the Jefferson County Health Department as we monitor the COVID-19 situation and its impact on our community. We will continue to be transparent in our communications, and will let you know of any further developments. In the meantime, it is important that as a community we abide by the current “stay at home” order.

    Stay safe and healthy,

    Dr. Desi Kirchhofer
    Superintendent, Northwest R-I School District 


    March 29, 2020

    Lion Nation,

    It’s a day early, but I want to say “Welcome back!” During these extremely unusual times, I hope that you still were able to have a relaxing and enjoyable spring break. Tomorrow marks our first day back in our electronic and home classrooms. While the situation is not ideal, we will continue to do our best to provide learning opportunities and support for Northwest students. If you were like me, there were moments of the break that seemed strange because we couldn’t do some things we are accustomed to, but in other cases, it was energizing trying to find new things to do. 

    During times like these, when there are many uncertainties, it is important to try to maintain some sort of routine. Things like having a regularly scheduled bedtime and wake-up time go a long way toward making each day feel like a regular day, including time for creating, exercising, and playing. Our goal is to make each day as normal as possible, with regular learning opportunities, ongoing communication with students, and maintaining that connection with them as well as families in our communityHere is more information from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education with tips about how to support learning at home.

    As a community, we want to thank New Hope Fellowship Church for donating meals to students during spring break, and on that note, remind you that food service has resumed at Maple Grove Elementary, Valley Middle, and Brennan Woods Elementary schools. More information about food service and other questions can be found at https://www.northwestschools.net/covid19faq.

    As I have mentioned before, I always try to find the positive even when faced with adversity. While this situation is very challenging, the silver lining is that we are constantly improving upon our alternative methods of instruction. This could possibly serve as a model for future opportunities, including those for snow days. Can you imagine eight inches of snow on the ground with school canceled for three days, yet not having to make up those hours thanks to an alternative instruction plan? We have a long way to go and will eventually have to submit a plan to be approved by the State Department, but this serves as a good test run.

    Once again, I want to thank everyone for their tremendous flexibility and understanding during this closure. While we count down toward the day we can physically open schools, we want to be sure to remain engaged and connected with one another. 

    Over the next couple of days, teachers will be contacting families once again to reconnect and discuss learning expectations and future communications. We understand that everyone’s circumstances will be different and we want to work with you to provide the support and resources as best we can. We will be flexible and understanding with assignments and school work during this closure. We will also do our best to stay in contact with students and families to provide learning opportunities without negative consequences.

    One particular group of students that many have expressed concern for is our seniors - the Class of 2020. The concerns are not only about academics, credits, and course requirements, but also about activities such as graduation and prom. Looking ahead to the future weeks and months, there remain many uncertainties. That stated, as far as graduation and possibly other traditional 12th grade experiences, we will work with the high school administration to try to address events and do all we can to make these special events possible. The high school administrators have already started discussing possible solutions if the situation doesn't improve by the graduation date. They are committed to making this work for students. It may look different and occur at a different time and place depending on how things evolve, but we will do our best to honor our seniors and have some memorable moments. 

    If you have any questions, you can reach out to your child’s teacher or any administrator. We are here for you in this crisis, as well as any other time. Lion Nation, we’ve got this.

    Stay safe, stay healthy, and continue practicing physical distancing.

    Dr. Desi Kirchhofer
    Superintendent, Northwest R-I School District


    March 23, 2020
     
    Lion Nation,
     
    First of all, I want to thank our students, parents, and staff for how everyone has responded during the first portion of our closure. You are doing an amazing job. We appreciate all that you are doing to be prepared at home and encourage you to reach out to your building if you are in need of support or information. We do understand the challenge this situation presents.
     
    Even though we are officially on spring break, I need to provide you an update on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and how it impacts the Northwest R-I School District.
     
    This afternoon, Jefferson County Executive Offices have declared a “stay at home” policy beginning at 12:01 a.m. on March 24 until 11:59 p.m. April 23. What does this mean for our community? We have a copy of the executive order and frequently asked questions about how the order impacts our community. 
     
    Based upon the spread of the virus and how quickly and easily it is transmitted, we believe it is in the best interest of the entire community to extend the closure of the Northwest R-I School District through April 24, with a hopeful return date for students of April 27. Until then, we will continue operating as we are now; students working with teachers online or with packets and encouraging learning opportunities at home. We will also extend “grab and go” lunch services during our closure. If you wish to receive lunch, please fill out the online form.
     
    While we are hopeful for the return date of April 27, but because of the ever-changing circumstances, we honestly don’t know. However, we will do everything in our power to salvage the rest of this school year. This includes graduation and other important events.
     
    In the meantime, we urge you to comply with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and practice social distancing and staying home as much as possible. This is an unprecedented case in which it truly takes everyone to help end this crisis.
     
    COVID-19 is a bump in the road for this school year and in our lives, but we know our community can overcome anything - we are Lion Nation. Parents and guardians, you’re doing a great job. Teachers and staff, you’re rising to the challenges you’ve been given and exceeding. Students, you are the heart and soul of Lion Nation, and it is you who is impacted the most. You are amazing in every sense of the word, and you have adjusted to this “new normal” better than we could have imagined. All around, the resilience of Lion Nation is to be commended.
     
    Just know, Lion Nation, that we love you, we miss you, and we can’t wait to see you in person once this crisis ends.
     
    We’ve got this!
     
    Dr. Desi Kirchhofer
    Superintendent, Northwest R-I School District

     

    March 20, 2020

    Lion Nation,
    I always try to be optimistic and find the best out of difficult situations. Our silver lining in this cloud has been you, Lion Nation. From the students and families to the teachers and staff, I want to thank you for your resilience and ability to exhibit grace under pressure. This has not, and will not, be easy, but we are making the best of it and will always make decisions based on what is best for our students. The COVID-19 situation is serious. This video explains how easily and quickly the virus can spread, and it takes the cooperation of everyone to help stop it.

    We have learned quite a few things in the past two days. Our technology department has really come through, even implementing a new tech support system online. These are uncharted waters for us all, but we will continue to learn and improve the learning experience for our students.

    Last night, we were able to still hold our March Board of Education meeting and adhere to social distancing recommendations from the Jefferson County Health Department by streaming our meeting on Facebook Live. It was the best we could do on such short notice, but the comments made were indicative of the way Lion Nation supports each other in good times and bad. Our Board Secretary, Chris Shelton, was complimentary to not only our teachers, but our families as well, and the entire Board shared his sentiments. I want to share the video of his comments with you.

    I want to let you know that on March 30, the superintendents of schools in Jefferson County, along with public officials, will have a meeting to discuss the circumstances and next steps regarding closures. As of now, the targeted return date is April 6, but as I have mentioned before, the situation is fluid and the date is subject to change. We will let you know about further developments as soon as possible.

    We have received several questions over the past few days, and we have a “Frequently Asked Questions” document available for you on our website at northwestschools.net/covid19faq. If you have any additional questions, please reach out to your child’s building principal. 

    We want you to remember that we are here for you and your children, and we want to stay connected. If you have photos of your students you wish to share, please send them to socialmedia@northwestschools.net, and we may feature them on our social media channels. We will stay active online, even during spring break.

    Speaking of spring break, I hope you and your families have the opportunity to enjoy the time off. Take time to practice self-care. Whether it is a walk, a good book, exercise, or some other form of enjoyment, take time to recharge your batteries, sharpen the saw, and have a great week. 

    Remember, we’re in this together, and we’ve got this!

    Thank you for your on-going support and resilience,

    Desi Kirchhofer, Ed. D
    Superintendent, Northwest School District
    Twitter @SuptNorthwest

     


    March 20, 2020

    We have created a Frequently Asked Questions document for families.


    March 18, 2020

    Lion Nation,

    All of us at the Northwest R-I School District want to thank you as we begin a new adventure in the education of our students today, as we heed the call of health experts and avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Even though we are practicing social distancing, we do not want social isolation. We want to stay as connected as possible with our families. 

    Although the virus has changed the way we do things for a while, life goes on. We know that this situation is not the same as your child being at school, or for our staff to be working from home. However, we are all working hard to navigate these waters in the best interest of our students and community. 

    If you have not received a call from one of our teachers, you will soon. The purpose of the call is to let you know what will be expected of your child and to answer any questions you may have specific to your child’s situation or class work. Since this is a fluid situation, so are the expectations. While we want students to continue to learn, we will be flexible with students, as every situation is different, and this is a challenging time for all of us. We will work with you.

    We are compiling a list of answers to the most “Frequently Asked Questions,” which will be released very soon. We also want you to know that you can reach out via email to staff with any additional questions. While we may not be in classrooms now, we are still here for our students and families. 

    This situation reminds us to continue to live part of our mission; to be resilient during a challenge, and ready to face it head-on. Regardless of this challenge that we face together, as the saying goes, “You’ve got this!” And, I want to reassure you that as a district, “We’ve got this!” too.

    Next week is spring break. Take the time to walk your dog, sit outside and enjoy the sunshine, read a book, check in with friends with a phone call, video message, or social media, check on your family, or anything else that brings you joy. Whatever you do, I hope you and your children enjoy your break. You have certainly earned it. 

    Stay safe and stay healthy, Lion Nation!

    Desi Kirchhofer, Ed. D
    Superintendent, Northwest School District
    Twiitter @SuptNorthwest 


    March 15, 2020

    Lion Nation,

    On Friday, March 13, 2020, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed an executive order declaring a State of Emergency in Missouri in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

    On Sunday afternoon, March 15, 2020 representatives from the Jefferson County Health Department, Jefferson County Administration Office, Mercy Hospitals, and Jefferson County schools met and determined that out of an abundance of caution, all Jefferson County public schools, including Northwest R-I, will close beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17. Classes will be in session as planned on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17, 2020. We will re-evaluate the situation after two weeks. The anticipated reopening date is April 6, 2020; however, the reopening date is subject to change pending further information.  

    There will be no practices or games for any of the teams involved in MSHSAA athletics and/or all other activities thru April 3, 2020. This will include the use of facilities by outside groups or teams.  

    We are letting you know ahead of time in order to give the district and its families ample time to make plans for this extended absence.

    Keeping our students, educators, families, and communities safe is our top priority. We are using every tool we have to protect our community and will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks. We did not make the decision to close schools lightly. The determination to close schools was made with the health and well being of everyone in mind. We understand everyone will be impacted and lives will be disrupted by this decision, but we believe we need to take such actions to protect our families and communities from this outbreak. Measures like closing schools and restricting mass gatherings are intended to slow the spread of the virus and assist our healthcare system, so those affected can receive the care needed. Early signs are beginning to occur with five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the State of Missouri as of this morning. Based on trends from around the world over the past few months, spreading to more communities in our country over the next few weeks is likely.

    During the closure, we are going to continue doing all we can to support the students and families of our district with resources they may need while schools are closed.    

    We will be in contact through our designated communication channels, providing additional information regarding ongoing learning plans, as well as social services for those in need. Please ensure your contact information is up-to-date with your student’s school office and you are connected to one or more of the following: 

    Thank you for your resilience during this time. We are here to help.

    Dr. Desi Kirchhofer
    Northwest R-I Superintendent


    Hello Lion Nation:

    It goes without saying that the safety of our students, staff, and community is our top priority. With all the media attention, travel restrictions, and potential closings, many of our families have questions regarding the Coronavirus and the impact on our school community. I want to assure you that we are in close communication with local and state officials, as well as continuing to monitor the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other resources in order to stay on top of this evolving situation. As we receive information, we will adjust our practices as necessary and continue to prioritize the safety and learning of our students.

    Below is an FAQ to provide you with the most updated information.

    • Will the Northwest R-I School District close?
      • As of this writing, the Jefferson County Health Department and the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE) officials do not recommend closing schools.
    • If schools are closed, how will students continue to access their education?
      • Northwest Executive Director of Secondary Education Dr. Tammy Ridgeway is leading a team of administrators to develop learning plans for students to use at home in the event a closure is necessary. In an effort to be proactive, we will be asking students and families about their availability of internet access and other resources at home. We will use this data to decide what path to take for these plans if necessary.
    • Are health-related absences due to Coronavirus concerns considered documented absences from school? 
      • We understand that family circumstances and risk factors can be different for everyone, and we will honor your decision to keep your child home from school. Students will not be penalized but please notify your child’s school if you will be keeping him or her home so we can document your child’s absence. 
    • How will Northwest R-I communicate with families with updates?
      • We will notify families when necessary through our regular communication channels, including email, social media, our website, and voice/text messaging.
    • What is the protocol for cleaning and disinfecting schools?
      • Our custodial staff, as well as our teachers, are aware of the current situation with Coronavirus. Our custodians have been working overtime hours in an effort to stay on top of the task. They have been cleaning, disinfecting, and wiping down frequently touched surfaces in common areas as well as classrooms. After public events in district locations, such as the recent election, extra care and attention was given to the areas in an effort to make sure the area was clean. 
    • When should a student or staff member stay home?
      • If students or staff experience fever of 100 degrees or higher, cough and/or difficulty breathing, the CDC recommends they should stay home from school and contact their health care provider immediately.
    • Will school events be canceled?
      • As of this writing, all events are being held as planned. However, as this is a fluid situation, these plans can change at a moment’s notice.
    • What guidelines should families follow regarding travel?
      • With spring break just around the corner, we know families have trips planned. Please consult https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ before you travel for any travel advisories.
    • Where can I turn for more information?

    Please understand we will continue to monitor this developing situation closely. We will stay in regular contact with the Jefferson County Health Department and other professional health organizations. We will continue to adjust our operations according to the recommendations of health authorities as the situation develops. 

    At Northwest, we are fortunate to live in such a kind and caring community. It is times like these that we need to continue to show the support and kindness that makes Northwest a special place.

    Thanks for trusting us with your student,

    Desi Kirchhofer, Ed. D
    Superintendent, Northwest School District


    March 10, 2020

    Lion Nation,
    You have most likely been hearing about Coronavirus and the impact that has been felt across the country, and recently, in the St. Louis area. This letter is not to cause panic, but to assure you that the Northwest R-I School District is staying informed and monitoring the situation.

    We have been in frequent contact with the Jefferson County Health Department. As of this writing, there have been no reported cases in our county or our school district. We hope to keep it that way.

    Risk is based on exposure to the virus. Here are some guidelines to follow to minimize the risk of catching Coronavirus, or any other virus.

    If you or your child are sick, stay home.

    Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, or cough and sneeze into your inner elbow.

    Practice good hand washing with soap and water. If those are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    If you have not already done so, get a flu vaccine.

    Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

    In the meantime, we have many events scheduled for the spring, from award ceremonies to athletic events to graduation. Currently, we intend to hold these events as planned. With spring break coming up soon, we know that families sometimes have trips scheduled. Please check travel.state.gov for any travel restrictions or advisories.

    Please visit www.health.mo.gov/coronavirus for additional information on the virus.

    We know that with issues like this, information is constantly changing. As mentioned before, we are in frequent contact with the Jefferson County Health Department and will follow its guidance as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations moving forward. If we receive any major updates or more information, we will let you know.

    We want our students and community to stay healthy and safe.

    Take care,
    Desi Kirchhofer