Today, Thursday, November 12, 2020, Governor Mike Parson, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced modifications to Missouri’s K-12 school reopening and operating guidance.
In recent weeks, we have seen a number of students and staff members quarantine due to the previous COVID-19 guidance that any person, regardless of masking, who was within 6 feet of the positive individual for 15+ minutes must quarantine for 14 days. Due to the increase in supporting data that affirms COVID-19 spread in schools is minimal as a result of the many mitigation practices, primarily the requirement of face masks, updated guidance from DHSS was released today stating that proper mask wearing may now prevent individuals from being identified as a close contact in K-12 schools that have implemented a mask mandate. This means that 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, the individual exposed does not need to quarantine.
Close contacts in K-12 school would continue to quarantine at home for 14 days if:
Their school does not require students and staff to wear masks
The mask was not being worn appropriately by either the person diagnosed with COVID-19 or the person who was exposed
At this time, the district does not plan to apply this new guidance retroactively for students already quarantined because we do not feel we can confidently go back to each scenario and confirm all parties were appropriately wearing a mask at the time of exposure. We understand this approach will not be popular with some, but we believe it is the right thing to do.
Given the recent notice of the new guidance, the District will communicate with the Franklin County Health department and revise it’s COVID-19 Guidance Plan accordingly. Please note that these changes will not take effect immediately, as the district needs time to ensure a full understanding of the changes.
We will continue to monitor health data within our own schools and work collaboratively with the Franklin County Department of Health and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to maintain a safe environment. The MVR-III Guidance Plan is developed primarily using the following guidance provided to Missouri school districts on November 12, 2020:
Currently, masks are required in grades 5-12, but not in grades preK-4. In light of this new guidance, we highly encourage parents to consider having their young children wear a face mask at all grade levels. The district will be exploring the possibility of requiring face coverings for all students. However, if such a change is made, it would not be effective until the Monday we return from fall break, Nov. 30th. Parents may expect to see an amended COVID-19 Guidance Plan following the regular School Board meeting on Wednesday, November 18th. We do encourage families to continue with mask wearing, social distance and use proper hand hygiene to help minimize the spread of COVID-19.
We appreciate your continued support and efforts to help us keep our school open for our students.
MVR-III School District