Missouri Minute: KC schools delay reopening decision; service workers protest racial injustice

Good morning, MBA readers,

Schools across Missouri are running out of time to finalize reopening plans for fall as the rising coronavirus case count in the state causes considerable uncertainty. Missouri has seen one of the largest percentage increases in cases over the last two weeks, according to NPR analysis. Gov. Mike Parson is pushing for schools to reopen, and he faces criticism over comments he made that kids are unlikely to experience problems if they contract the virus. Those remarks were seen by some as ignoring the risks posed to teachers and family members. Kansas City Public School officials are delaying the announcement of reopening plans after health officials advised against in-person classes, and other districts across the state are in the midst of similar deliberations.

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Workers strike to protest racial inequality
Across the globe in 160 cities, workers in the service industry joined organized labor to protest systemic racism. In Missouri, participants rallied at St. Louis and Ferguson McDonald’s locations. Protesters targeted large corporations, saying they exploit workers of color. (Associated Press)

Parson pushes for return to school, despite risks
Gov. Mike Parson said that most kids will likely contract COVID-19 when returning to school, but he reiterated his desire for schools to reopen this fall, saying children face lower risk of serious complications from the virus. His comments drew attention and criticism nationally. (Kansas City Star)

Kansas City Public Schools delay fall reopening plan
In response to rising coronavirus case numbers in the school district, the superintendent said that plans to return students to the classroom next month are indefinitely postponed. Students will only return as scheduled on Aug. 24 if the number of new cases declines consecutively for two weeks. (KCUR)

Southwest employees seek retirement, long-term leave
About 28% of the airline’s nearly 61,000 employees have applied for early retirement or extended leave. Southwest, the dominant carrier at Missouri’s two largest airports, is trying to reduce the number of involuntary furloughs when government relief funding runs out this fall. (Reuters)

Schools could face teacher, bus driver shortages
With many schools already short on staff, officials worry the pandemic may increase these shortages, especially in rural areas. State education officials expect to need more bus drivers to comply with social distancing rules while busing to and from school. (Missourinet)

Kansas City ranks high as prospective site for business expansion
In a survey measuring corporate preference for new office locations, Kansas City was one of 11 mid-sized cities seen as a strong candidate for expansion. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Missouri dentists see opportunity to expand teledentistry
As some patients continue to cancel appointments they deem nonessential, dentists look to adopting teledentistry to safely preserve their appointments during the pandemic. (KBIA)

Mobility Worldwide to expand Columbia footprint
The nonprofit organization, which makes and donates carts to help people with limited mobility, will open a new assembly facility in August. (Columbia Missourian)

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Missouri is among the states with the least economic exposure to the coronavirus, according to personal finance website WalletHub, ranking 49th in terms of exposure. The state ranks 32nd for aggressiveness of measures to limit virus exposure, according to the same site.

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“One thing I realized was that we had so many people coming to me saying, ‘Can you give us money for this or that,’ and I realized there are thousands of nonprofits in St. Louis, and we aren’t all coordinating, even in the same sector.”

That’s Maxine Clark, discussing how she got the idea for a $100 million development in St. Louis that will be called the Delmar DivINe, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Clark, the founder and former chief executive of Build-A-Bear Workshop, has turned her attention to investing and philanthropy since leaving the company. The name for the development is derived from “Delmar Divide,” a term used to refer to racial and income stratification in the city. With the goal of revitalizing the area along Delmar Boulevard, the project will take over the former buildings of St. Luke’s Hospital, which went bankrupt in 2013, and turn them into apartments, offices and space for a nonprofit collaborative. The project is expected to be completed as early as fall 2021.

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Missouri is among the top five U.S. states and territories for rising coronavirus case numbers, NPR reports. Compared with two weeks ago, the state’s number of cases has risen 87%. This has become important as schools and businesses try to reopen. Missouri canceled its state fair last week over the rising number of cases, and multiple cities in the state have put mandatory mask orders in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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A Higher Promise

Two teenage sisters, Amari and Sa’mya Lewis, started A Higher Promise to help raise money for their college fund, Startland News reports. Offering yard signs that feature a simple black heart, the sisters have sold more than 1,000 since they got started in late June. The sisters wanted the signs help people show solidarity with the Black community as Black Lives Matter Protests continue. They also are honoring the memory of their brother, who was killed in a shooting last summer. Once their college goals are met, the Lewises hope to donate to Black Lives Matter and organizations that help Black transgender individuals.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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