On Thursday, Nov. 12 Governor Mike Parson, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced changes to Missouri’s K-12 school reopening and operating guidance in regards to when close contacts are required to quarantine.
These changes stem from the large number of students and school staff members that have been quarantined in recent weeks and the strain it has placed on educators, school leaders and Missouri families.
According to the press release by Parson’s Office of Communications, the updated quarantine guidance states if both individuals at school, the person diagnosed with COVID-19 and the person exposed to the positive case, have masks on and are wearing them correctly, then the person exposed does not need to quarantine.
The person who tests positive with COVID-19 will be required to isolate at home. The exposed person should self monitor for symptoms, isolate at home at the first sign of illness and continue wearing a face covering to further reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to others.
According to the release, an exposed person should quarantine at home for 14 days if: the school does not require students and staff to wear face coverings or the mask was not worn correctly by either the person exposed or the person diagnosed with COVID-19.
“We know that COVID-19 is not going away soon, so it is important that we continue to evaluate the guidance we’re issuing at the state level to make sure our procedures are sustainable for the next several months,” said Parson, in the release. “We have been working hard with DESE and DHSS to find a solution that allows us to continue providing the high-quality education our students deserve while still keeping them, our teachers, and all school staff members safe.
“Schools that are consistently implementing COVID-19 mitigation strategies remain among the safest places for our students. We believe this change will lead to more schools encouraging proper mask usage, helping to further protect students and educators from the spread of the virus.”
Taney County school superintendents, along with the Director of the Taney County Health Department Lisa Marshall, met the afternoon of Nov. 13 and collectively released the following statement:
“Taney County school districts, in conjunction with the County Health Department, are closely reviewing Governor Parson’s announcement on modification to quarantine students/staff who are appropriately masked in K-12 classrooms. A decision will be made (this) week as to potential changes, if any, made to existing quarantine practices.
“Current protocols will remain in place until the review is complete.”
The Reeds Spring School District released the following statement to the Branson Tri-Lakes News on Nov. 12:
“The Reeds Spring School District will continue our current quarantine process for students and staff anytime masks are not worn. The district is in the process of evaluating whether any changes are needed to our masking procedures. Please know that we will continue to make decisions that we believe are in the best interest of students. We take the health threat seriously. We also recognize the challenges that the quarantine process places on students, their families, and our staff.”