NOV 19, 2020
On Thursday, Governor Parson announced a change in quarantining protocols for school districts. As a measure to reduce the number of quarantined students, The Missouri Department of Health has revised the guidelines related to quarantine students. Under the new guidelines, when students are exposed to a positive COVID case and both parties are wearing masks, the health department will only require the positive case to isolate. All students, properly masked, within close contact will be allowed to remain at school and self-monitor for symptoms.
Last night our school board met to review the new guidelines and determine how to maximize the benefit of these protocols for our students. The guidance is clear that in order for the local health department to use the new quarantine guidelines, a district must have a mask mandate in place. After careful consideration, the board approved the implementation of a mask mandate for students in junior high and high school beginning on Monday, November 30, 2020 and continuing through the end of the semester, at which time the mandate will be reviewed. As with every decision this was made seeking the best solution to keep students, staff, and families safe while providing a quality education.
The students in elementary classrooms stay all day with only the students in their same classroom. Thus by containing the class, their exposure risk is minimized. But for students who move from class to class throughout the day as students do in junior high and high school, the risk of exposure is much higher. Therefore, this additional measure to minimize students’ exposure to COVID is being implemented. Masks will be required by all students in junior high and high school while in classrooms, commons areas, restrooms, hallways, on buses and anywhere outside where students are within 6 feet of each other. Students, in any class such as band or physical education, or involved in an activity such as eating in the cafeteria where wearing a mask is not possible, will be subjected to the former quarantine protocols if exposed during those times.
We hope that this plan will help us keep our in-school exposures to a minimum, but should the number of positive cases in students and/or staff members increase at any time during the remainder of the school year, it may become necessary to once again modify procedures or protocols. If that becomes necessary, we will communicate any changes or updates with parents as soon as possible.