Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

DESE-Related Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information



The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) updates this page often with new details related to COVID-19 and DESE and/or public school operations. See the topics below and click to expand each of those sections for more specific information.

Administrative Memos & Previously Released Documents
Alternative Methods of Instruction

DESE has compiled all Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) information on a new webpage. That information can be found at

COVID-19 Testing: Antigen and Screening Testing 

Supplemental Funding Available for Missouri K-12 Schools Participating in COVID-19 Testing Programs

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), through the Reopening Schools cooperative agreement, has supplemental funding available to all school districts participating in at least one of the Missouri COVID-19 testing programs (BinaxNOW or Screening Testing). The purpose of this supplemental funding for COVID-19 is to offset costs a school or school district (public, charter, or private) incurs related to prevention and detection of COVID-19 in the school setting during the 2021-22 school year. These costs can include but are not limited to: staff time, personal protective equipment, printing costs of forms and materials, and small air filtration devices. 

The amount each school/district receives through the supplemental funding program depends on the total population (students and staff) of buildings participating in testing programs. Schools/districts will receive $200 per/person x population of participating buildings up to $600,000. Please note the total amount is based on the participating building’s total student and staff population, not the number of students/staff participating in the testing program. DHSS has set $30,000 as the minimum amount each school/district will receive. Schools/districts may request less funding, if desired. 

To apply, please complete the online supplemental funding application. Schools/school districts receiving the supplemental funding are required to submit a budget for the funding prior to expending any of the funds. Please reach out to the K-12 Screening Testing team at for questions regarding supplemental funding availability or visit the DHSS website here.

Screening Testing

Please see the following important information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

COVID-19 Screening Testing Program for Missouri K-12 Schools Offers Additional Layer of Prevention for 2021-22 School Year

DHSS is offering Missouri’s K-12 local education agencies the opportunity to participate in a COVID-19 screening testing program using a pooled testing approach during the 2021-22 school year. Please reference the Missouri Screening Testing Program for K-12 Schools Guide for complete information about the program. Screening testing means regularly (e.g., weekly) testing people without symptoms with the goal of identifying and isolating COVID-19 positive individuals. This type of testing can help schools identify potential outbreaks early and give them the confidence needed to safely, and with precautions, maintain in-person learning for their students. Screening testing is just one piece of a comprehensive approach for COVID-19 mitigation in schools. 

Update — DHSS announced a partnership with Ginkgo Bioworks Inc. (“Ginkgo”) to provide pooled SARS-CoV-2 testing through Concentric by Ginkgo. Starting Monday, August 23, Concentric will begin enrolling and onboarding interested schools in this comprehensive testing program. This will continue throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Laboratory and testing services are provided in partnership with local Missouri labs. You can read the full DHSS news release announcing the partnership with Ginkgo here


Program Participation

DHSS invites all K-12 schools to participate, including public school districts, charter schools and private schools. Participating schools/districts will receive testing resources and staffing, if desired. Staffing support includes assistance with the entire testing process including registering individuals for testing, providing testing materials, collecting and testing samples, and reporting results. Schools will also receive communication resources.

To participate in the K-12 Screening Testing Program, schools/districts need to complete an Authorized School Application, which includes completing a Statement of Assurances and Testing Plan Worksheet. For more information about Missouri’s K-12 Screening Testing Program and other questions about screening testing, please contact or visit the K-12 Screening Testing webpage.

Office Hours to Field Questions

If you have questions about the screening testing program, you can view the recordings below from the July 12 and 13 office hours sessions hosted by DHSS and DESE staff, along with infectious disease physicians from Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.


Antigen Testing

The Missouri Legislature provided the Department of Health and Senior Services the spending authority needed to confirm that funding will be available for Missouri to continue providing rapid antigen tests to public and private schools through June 2022.

Program Resources

Please contact with questions.

CDC & U.S. Department of Education Information
COVID-19 Cases Among School-Aged Children

The state of Missouri has re-launched the COVID-19 in School District Communities dashboard, which tracks positive cases among all school-aged residents (ages 5-19), including non-public school students, in each school district's geographic boundary.

Civil Rights Resources for Schools

U.S. Department of Education Provides Technical Assistance Amid Pandemic: The U.S. Department of Education’s (USED’s) Office for Civil Rights has released new COVID-19-related technical assistance for elementary and secondary schools. The technical assistance document, Questions and Answers for K-12 Public Schools in the Current COVID-19 Environment, is issued primarily in response to inquiries received by USED and provides important information related to schools’ obligations under Section 504/Title II, Title VI and Title IX as schools continue to make decisions regarding the provision of educational services for all children.

Early Childhood Information
  • Review the CDC’s COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Child Care Programs

    Updates to the guidance emphasize the importance of universal masking for everyone ages 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status. Additionally, this guidance provides more information on screening testing and updated guidance for fully vaccinated staff. Early care and education (ECE) programs can promote vaccinations among staff and families, including pregnant women, by providing information about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination, encouraging vaccine trust and confidence, and establishing supportive policies and practices. The updated version of the guidance outlines strategies for ECE programs to implement to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to maintain safer operations. ECE programs include child care centers, home-based and family child care programs, Head Start programs, and other prekindergarten programs.

  • Missouri First Steps Guidance Manual
  • First Steps Notice of Action/Consent During COVID-19
#HealthyatSchool Toolkit

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is providing a toolkit for local education agencies, state organizations and the general public to access social media and other shareable content for the #HealthyatSchool "Sick? Stay Home!" campaign. Please visit the #HealthyatSchool toolkit for more specific information.

Operating Guidance for Schools

Operating Guidance for Schools

DHSS and DESE have updated the Missouri School COVID-19 Operating Guidance document. Information previously found in DHSS’ Guidance for Assessing COVID-19 Exposures and Defining Close Contacts in a School Setting document is now contained in the main/primary DHSS/DESE guidance document, allowing all information to be found in one place.

The section regarding guidance for assessing exposures and recommendations regarding quarantine of close contacts includes the following key updates/additions:

  • Option 4 – Test to Stay: See pg. 5 for complete details about the new Test to Stay Option that enables a close contact to continue activities during the quarantine period through participation in frequent testing. The Test to Stay Option provides LPHAs and LEAs an additional option to consider for persons who do not meet current options for staying in school following an exposure to COVID-19 in the K-12 setting.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): See pg. 7 for new FAQs and their responses, covering topics including, but not limited to: at home tests, antibody tests, and the use of ShowMeVax.
  • Resources and Tools: See pgs. 12-15 for new resources, including the DHSS/DESE graphic and flowchart that describe the recommended scenario-based options for quarantine as outlined in the updated guidance document, including the Test to Stay Option.


U.S. Department of Education's “Return to School Roadmap”

On August 2, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released the “Return to School Roadmap,” a resource to support students, schools, educators, and communities as they prepare to return to safe, healthy in-person learning this fall. The roadmap provides key resources and supports for students, parents, educators, and school communities to build excitement around returning to classrooms this school year and outlines how federal funding can support the safe and sustained return to in-person learning.

ABC Science Collaborative Publishes COVID-19 Resource & Guidance

The ABC Science Collaborative has identified strategies to help school leaders use current data to consider the best, safest, and most practical policies to promote attendance in the classroom, where most students learn best, during the 2021–22 school year. The ABC Science Collaborative coordinated a comprehensive review of the current scientific literature and available data on COVID-19 transmission and mitigation strategies for K–12 schools. The group recently published a summary of those findings – COVID-19 and Schools: The Year in Review and a Path Forward – to provide an informational resource and practical guidance for school leaders and policy makers to consider as they plan a path forward for safely resuming full in-person instruction in the coming school year.

The ABC Science Collaborative is coordinated by the Duke Clinical Research Institute at the Duke University School of Medicine and is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Additional Resources

Additional reopening and operating guidance information can be found in the following resources:

Special Education Information & Guidance

Early Childhood Special Education opportunities are of great value to children and their families. Attending a high-quality preschool program that is in a public school, or is community-based, provides children with rich experiences that support on-going success in school. Given these unusual times, early childhood experiences, especially for our most vulnerable populations (e.g., children with disabilities, English language learners), can help close opportunity and achievement gaps that have been persistent in Missouri. During COVID-19, guidance is being issued in response to changing circumstances and information. The ECSE COVID-19 Resource Table is designed to provide resources for early childhood special educators and parents to access as enhancements to learning. Please note that many community-based childcare programs continue to serve children safely through the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

After receiving many questions from constituents, the DESE Office of Special Education developed a COVID-19 question and answer guide. The compliance team utilized information from a variety of resources, including guidance documents posted by other states and national organizations as well as questions received from Missouri educators serving special education students. State and local education agencies are testing these uncharted waters together. Our challenge is to think about the intent and purpose behind the procedural requirements for each step of the special education process, and then lead teams as they reflect on how they can fulfill that same purpose and intent in an alternate way, in light of our current circumstances. We must do the best we can to stay true to the intent of IDEA.  Please remember to review the daily LRP site for new information. View the DESE Special Education Compliance COVID-19 Question and Answer Guide.


Statutory Waivers

Under the new Executive Order 21-09 announced by Governor Parson on August 27, the following education-related statutory waivers remain in effect through December 31:

  • Use of School Buses — Section 163.161.1, RSMo
  • Retired Member of PSRS Working for a District — Sections 169.560.1 and .2, RSMo
  • Retired Member of PSRS Working for a District — Section 169.660.2, RSMo

The following education-related statutory waiver was terminated on August 31, 2021: 

  • Hearings for Unaccredited or Provisionally Accredited — Section 162.081.2, RSMo

This waiver covers a fiscal year requirement and therefore should be terminated for the start of Fiscal Year 2022. 

The following education-related statutory waivers were previously terminated:

  • Professional Development Fund, etc. — Section 160.530, RSMo
  • Hold Harmless Districts Exempt from Withholdings — Section 163.031.7, RSMo
  • Transfers to and from the Incidental Fund — Section 165.011, RSMo
  • Audits of Records — Section 165.121.4, RSMo
Vaccine Information

CDC’s Guide to School-Located Vaccination Clinics: Best Practices for School Districts
The CDC’s School-Located Vaccination Clinics: Best Practices for School Districts provides a roadmap for school administrators to work directly with local health departments and other vaccine providers (e.g., pharmacies) to set up vaccination clinics in places that K-12 students and their parents know and trust. The guide provides a three-tiered approach for school districts to follow to partner with an appropriate vaccine provider for school-located vaccination clinics. 

In addition to identifying a partner vaccine provider, School-Located Vaccination Clinics: Best Practices for School Districts for School Districts provides guidance relating to roles and responsibilities, date and site selection, outreach, and hosting the clinic.

Children and COVID-19 Vaccination

The CDC recommends that children and adolescents age 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children and adolescents age 5 and up, as a 2-dose series taken 3 weeks apart. The dose for children age 5-11 is one-third of the dosage of the vaccine for older adolescents and adults.

Vaccination is the best way to protect children age 5 and older from COVID-19. COVID-19 has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death, and tens of thousands of children and teens have been hospitalized with COVID-19. While children and adolescents are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, it is still possible.

The vaccine is safe and effective. Before being authorized for children, scientists and medical experts completed their review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials of thousands of children. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was rigorously tested and reviewed, and more than 11 million adolescents ages 12-17 have already safely received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Visit for more information and details on how to get a vaccine for your child.

Vaccine Promotion Resources from U.S. DHHS

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS’) COVID-19 Public Education Campaign has made available two great resources to promote COVID-19 vaccination as we approach the new school year.

The Back to School toolkit (English and Spanish) is available for school district leaders, teachers, parent leaders, and school supporters that want to help increase confidence in and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in their school. The toolkit includes vaccination clinic guides, resources for parent leader meetings, and more. The resource hub has a number of outreach materials specifically designed for various audiences, including students and parents.

Vaccine Toolkit

The Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has developed a vaccine toolkit for Missouri schools with easily accessible information regarding the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible children.

Complete information about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found at

Webinars Hosted

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Outdated COVID-19 information from the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years has been archived here.