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Health center announces more COVID-19 deaths

R-1 to address rising cases


The Polk County Health Center shared information on three COVID-19 related deaths added to the county’s total tally last week. 

“PCHC administration and staff would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of three community members lost to COVID-19,” a post on social media stated. “Families grieving the loss of those close to them are close to our hearts and minds every day.” The post said the ages of the three individuals who died ranged from 59 to 86.  

“All were diagnosed with underlying health conditions,” the post stated. “Two were unvaccinated and one had been partially vaccinated, but had not completed the series.” 

The post stated the health center encourages all community members to join “in the fight against COVID-19 by doing all they can to prevent these needless deaths in our county.”

A separate social media post stated the Polk County Health Center has COVID-19 vaccine available daily for first, second and booster doses. The center offers vaccines from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

The center also offers community members free masks, available at the center’s drive-thru window, the post stated. 

“Testing is offered daily to those who are a direct contact to a positive case and symptomatic,” the post stated. 

R-1 to address rising cases

With COVID-19 surging in the area and positive cases increasing among students and teachers, the Bolivar R-1 school district is taking time to plan its next steps. 

In a statement to parents, the district said administration is “continuing to monitor the health of our staff and students as absences from illness are rising across the district.”

According to district communications specialist Braden Berg, school administration planned to “come back on Tuesday from the long weekend and assess our student and staff absence numbers and make a decision.” 

“Moving to remote learning for a few days is a possibility,” Berg said. 

He said closing for a “wellness break” is also an option. 

“The decision to close a building or the entire district is not an easy one,” the notice sent to parents stated. “It comes when we are unable to maintain operations. That means if we have too many staff members or students out sick, we can’t operate efficiently.” 

The district’s decision was not available as of press time Tuesday.

As of Tuesday morning, Berg said various illnesses were spreading in the district, and he shared the following overall attendance numbers:

  • Student attendance: 85% at BPS, 81% at BIS, 85% at BMS, 83% BHS.
  • Teacher attendance: 90% at BPS, 82% at BIS, 82% at BMS, 90% at BHS.*

Berg said he is tracking the school district’s positive COVID-19 case count on Bolivar R-1’s dashboard at bolivarschools.org/c_o_v_i_d-19/dashboard.

While student, teacher and staff absences from classrooms have been on the rise, Berg said sports and other extracurricular activities “have not been impacted much due to the illness surge.” 

Berg said Bolivar’s school board does not have plans to reinstate its previous masking requirements. 

“We can no longer mandate masking after an order by the Missouri Attorney General back in December,” Berg said. 

However, Berg said Bolivar’s schools “are continuing our health and safety protocols that have been in place all year.” 

“We are encouraging mask wearing, social distancing and staying home if you are feeling ill,” he said. “Our teachers and custodians have also increased their disinfecting efforts to keep everyone healthy.”

Berg said district leaders encourage parents and students to do wellness checks each day before heading to school. 

“If a student or staff member has symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, nausea or vomiting, new loss of taste or smell, or a runny nose or congestion, they should stay home,” he said. 

*Editor's note: Bolivar R-1 shared updated attendance numbers via social media on Tuesday, Jan. 18, following press time. The updated numbers are as follows:  

  • Student attendance: 85% at BPS, 81% at BIS, 83% at BMS, 79% BHS.
  • Teacher attendance: 90% at BPS, 87% at BIS, 82% at BMS, 90% at BHS.*