Governor Parson Announces Changes in State’s K-12 School Quarantine Guidance

Today, 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. The large number of students and school staff members quarantined in recent weeks has presented a significant strain for educators, school leaders, and Missouri families alike. Under the updated guidance, proper mask wearing may now prevent individuals from being identified as close contacts 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. Exposed individuals should self-monitor for symptoms and stay home at the first sign of illness. They should also continue to wear a mask at all times to further reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus. The person who tests positive for COVID-19 is still required to isolate at home.Close contacts in K-12 schools should continue to quarantine at home for 14 days if (1) their school does not require students and staff to wear masks, or (2) the mask was not being worn appropriately by either the person diagnosed with COVID-19 or the person who was exposed. At today’s briefing in the State Capitol, Governor Parson was joined by Dr. Rachel Orscheln, Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Dr. Orscheln has worked closely with DHSS and DESE throughout the pandemic, providing expertise to ongoing conversations related to K-12 school reopening and operating guidance. Governor Parson was also joined at the briefing by Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven. In efforts to keep schools open, Governor Parson and his administration continue to emphasize that Missourians must work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by implementing the three key mitigation strategies: wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand washing.

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