The best way is to use a script to hide and lock the status area. (There's a control in the lower left corner that hides/reveals the status area and you have to lock the status area to disable this control.)
One script step is all you need:
Show/Hide Status Area [lock; hide]
You may want to run a second script:
Show/Hide Status Area [Show]
To reveal the status area for users where this is permitted.
Brilliant - simple but effective. Added it to the start up script and works perfectly.