Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

DESE-Related Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

COVID-19 2020 Response Efforts Snapshot

For a downloadable version of the above COVID-19 2020 Response Efforts Infographic, click here


See the topics below and click to expand each of those sections for more specific information. DESE remains committed to doing all we can to remove barriers and provide public school leaders the flexibility they need to remain focused on the health and safety of their students, staff members and communities.

A+ Algebra I End of Course Exam Requirement for 2021 Seniors

The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD) previously issued guidance related to A+ eligibility for the senior class of 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. That previous guidance indicated that the 2021 seniors must continue to score proficient or advanced on the Algebra I End-of-Course Exam, or a higher level math EOC, or achieve a combination of high school grade point average and ACT math subscore that meets the sliding scale alternative to the EOC requirement. The guidance also indicated the department would continue to monitor the situation and would provide additional guidance as needed. Upon further review of the situation, we have decided it is appropriate to extend the Algebra I EOC waiver that was granted to the class of 2020 to the class of 2021. As a result, the 2021 seniors will not be required to meet either the Algebra I EOC requirement or its alternative to qualify for the A+ Scholarship. Read the complete announcement from MDHEWD here.

Administrative Memos & Previously Released Documents
Alternative Methods of Instruction
Antigen Testing

Program Extension

May 24: We’re excited to share that 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. Schools are able to continue to place reorders for more tests for the coming 2021-22 school year. The program is also open to new applicants at any point in time moving forward.

Program Resources

K-12 Antigen Testing Program Guidance Document Updates

The K-12 Antigen Testing Program guidance document was recently refreshed with key information. Please look for the green flag icon to draw your attention to the most recent updates. Several of those key updates are explained further below.

New DHSS Standing Order for Asymptomatic Testing

One of the updates in the recently revised toolkit is a new standing order from DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams that allows the use of the BinaxNOW tests on asymptomatic individuals in schools (see Appendix B in the K-12 Antigen Testing Program guidance). As COVID-19 vaccines continue to become more widely available, it is important to remember that the other preventative measures taken over the past year have not diminished in the fight against this virus. COVID-19 testing continues to be one of those important preventative strategies. It is important to note that schools are not required to begin testing asymptomatic students and staff, but your antigen testing plans could evolve to include this new option to provide the data and evidence to support your safe reopening and operating efforts.

BinaxNOW Expiration Dates Extended

May 10: Abbott, the BinaxNOW manufacturer, extended the expiration dates for more lot numbers. The listed tests are now usable until 12 months past their manufacturing date. This letter from Abbott lists all of the lot numbers that are now eligible for the extension. Please read the list carefully to determine if the lot numbers listed on your test kit boxes are among the list. Please note that these lot numbers refer to the numbers on the outside of the box, not on the individual test kits. DHSS has updated our K-12 Antigen Testing Program guidance document to reflect this change. For boxes that do not qualify for an extended expiration date, please keep the boxes of tests and clearly label them as expired. These tests can be stored and used for training new staff members. If you have a large amount of tests that are set to expire soon, you could take advantage of the option to test asymptomatic students and staff and use that soon-to-expire inventory quickly. We would also like to remind each of you as the school year comes to a close if you would like more tests for the beginning of the school year, submit a reorder form shortly (less than a week) before your return to school.

The state is still awaiting final CDC grant approval and appropriations authority from the Missouri legislature to confirm that the antigen testing program can continue through June 2022. We will provide an update to you as soon as possible. 

March 8: Abbott, the company that manufactures the BinaxNOW antigen tests, released information recently to say the company’s ongoing product testing supports extending the shelf-life of the antigen test kits. This means that you can add three (3) months to the expiration date listed on the box. Tests now expire nine (9) months after their manufactured date, as opposed to six (6) months as originally listed/communicated. This change applies to certain Lot numbers – and our inventory indicates that a large portion of the inventory already shipped to K-12 schools is made up of these Lot numbers. To verify your inventory is eligible for this expiration date extension, please review the Lot numbers listed on the document linked above. These are the only Lot numbers eligible for the expiration date extension at this time. 

If your district/school will be able to use the test kits prior to this newly extended expiration date, you are welcome to keep the tests onsite. DESE will share more information in the coming weeks about how the K-12 Antigen Testing Program will proceed for summer school and school year 2021-22.

New DESE Point of Contact

Staff that are part of the Missouri Healthy Schools grant program will assume the role of managing the K-12 Antigen Testing Program beginning April 12. We wanted to find a more permanent “home” for this program within our agency because we’re excited to share there is funding available to Missouri to continue providing rapid antigen tests to public and private schools through June 2022, pending legislative approval. We have created a new email account for all antigen testing related inquiries and assistance. Please save in your contact list as all future antigen program communications will be sent from that account.

New Processes for Reordering, Recouping and Applying

We are happy to announce that there are now online forms available to streamline several of our processes.

If you wish to have tests recouped from your school, please fill out our new recoupment form here. To initiate an order for more tests, please fill out this reorder form here. We ask that you evaluate how many tests you will need for the next 45 days when submitting an order for more tests. We will contact you with any questions about your form. We are now making it possible for any/all schools/districts to apply to join the antigen testing program at any time by using the application link

The federal government has prioritized public and private K-12 districts/schools to receive Abbott’s BinaxNOW rapid antigen test kits to test symptomatic school personnel and students for COVID-19. This minimally invasive nasal swab test must be administered by a health professional (e.g. a school nurse), and yields results in just 15 minutes. While the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) still believes it is important for people who are sick to stay home from school, our organization recognizes how valuable these tests can be, especially during cold and flu season, to quickly identify if an individual’s mild symptoms are COVID-19 or not. DESE is thankful to our partners at the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) helping to make this opportunity possible for interested districts/schools.
Calendars, Finance and Funding
CDC & Missouri Health Department Information

Youth Sports During COVID-19: With youth sports returning in conjunction with the start of the school year, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released two helpful documents to help families prepare for returning to competition.

CDC Guidance: Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Website and Hotline: DHSS's COVID-19 webpage contains any and all COVID-19-related information for Missourians, and is updated frequently. DESE officials remain in close communication with colleagues at DHSS to stay informed about COVID-19 and the current situation in Missouri. DHSS has activated a statewide public hotline - 877-435-8411 - for citizens or providers needing guidance regarding COVID-19. It is operated by medical professionals and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.​

DHSS has made COVID-19 fact sheets available in multiple languages.
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.

COVID-19 Cases Among School-Aged Children

The State of Missouri has launched a new website for the state's expanded set of COVID-19 dashboards. Included in this data is information which tracks positive cases among all school-aged residents (ages 5-19), including non-public school students, in each school district's geographic boundary.

COVID Relief

DESE has compiled all COVID Relief information onto a new webpage. That information, along with Department contact information, can be found at here.​​

Federal Relief Funds Webinar (4-14-21)

CARES Act Grants Webinar (8-27-20)

#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.

LEA Deadlines

June Cycle MOSIS and Core Data Reporting During COVID-19: The June Cycle is now available for reporting in MOSIS and Core Data. DESE continues to receive many questions about the reporting of the June Cycle data and the impact COVID-19. The Office of Data System Management has created this document to address many of the questions DESE has received. This document will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Extended Learning Deadline Extensions: The following deadline extensions pertain to afterschool grantees for both 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) and School Age Community (SAC) grants:

  • 21st CCLC grants can be extended through June 30, 2021 with prior approval. In such cases, Final Expenditure Reports would be due no later than July 15, 2021.

Programs seeking more information on these extended deadlines should contact DESE’s Extended Learning Section at or 573-522-2627.

Missouri Resident Information
  • Missouri Services Navigator: Missourians in need during COVID-19 can find information about essential services available through the online Missouri Services Navigator system. This resource offers instant access to available programs and services such as school meal programs for students, food banks, child care, diaper banks, counseling and organizations that assist with housing, transportation or utilities issues. There are currently over 2,000 services listed, with new services added daily. Users can search by keyword, location and/or service. Every program and service contains a map of the location as well as contact information.
  • #Essential4Kids – Kids Need Schools to Continue Reporting Abuse During COVID-19: In times of crisis and economic insecurity, rates of child abuse and neglect increase. However, reports to Missouri’s child abuse and neglect hotline have declined dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students not being in school creates barriers to reporting abuse. New resources from Missouri KidsFirst empower teachers, counselors, bus drivers, nutrition staff and other school professionals in their role as mandated reporters, as they work with children virtually and in non-traditional ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. The #Essential4Kids resources (including a video) provide a quick refresher on the signs of child abuse and neglect and how to fulfill your responsibility as a mandated reporter during this extraordinary time.
  • Broadband Providers Respond to COVID-19: Broadband access is more important than ever, as Missourians have been instructed to stay home from work and school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Accessibility is critical to meet our needs for education as well as telemedicine, telecommuting and overall quality of life. In response to this, several broadband providers are temporarily offering free internet service, waiving disconnect and late fees, providing access to Wi-Fi hot spots, and other measures to help people at home access the services they need. Click here to learn more on the DHSS website.
  • Protecting Students’ Civil Rights During COVID-19 Response: The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education released a webinar on ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities for schools utilizing online learning during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In addition, OCR published a fact sheet for education leaders on how to protect students’ civil rights as school leaders take steps to keep students safe and secure. These resources will assist education leaders in making distance learning accessible to students with disabilities and in preventing discrimination during this Administration-wide response effort. See the full release
Parents as Teachers & First Steps Programs
Reopening and Operating Guidance for Schools

Decisions to open Missouri schools, along with the methods/patterns of instruction being used during the 2020-21 school year, are made by local school leaders and local boards of education. There are currently no statewide health mandates related to K-12 schools.

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and DESE have released a document that answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about K-12 school reopening and operating during the pandemic. The original document, posted on July 9, has been updated to include further details regarding both proactive and reactive strategies that Missouri’s K-12 schools can utilize to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and best protect their students, staff members and communities. There are no statewide health mandates related to K-12 school reopening being issued at this time, and it is important to note that local school boards and local jurisdictions have the authority to implement more stringent or less restrictive preventative measures than those listed in this document. Also, please note this is a living document, and edits or updates will be made as necessary.

February 17: CDC & USED Release New School Reopening & Operating Guidance
New guidance documents and resources related to school reopening and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic were released last week by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Those resources are linked here, with additional details provided below.

New CDC Operational Strategy Documents
The CDC refers to these new documents as a “one-stop-shop” for schools to use in opening for in-person instruction and staying open. Please note that much of the CDC guidance is not new or different from what CDC has issued around school reopening in the past; instead, it is put in one place and intended to be used as a roadmap for ongoing work. Among the highlights of the CDC Operational Strategy:

  • Evidence that shows schools can safely reopen for in-person instruction when health and safety protocols are in place and based in science
  • ​A recommendation that schools prioritize two key mitigation strategies: universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing
  • Clarification on the community risk indicators to inform reopening and link directly to information on community transmission
  • ​Acknowledgment that many schools are already providing in-person instruction and should continue to do so in accordance with health and safety protocols

The CDC also addresses the vaccine in this new document, noting that it is recommended that educators and school staff members be prioritized to receive the vaccine as soon as the supply allows (K-12 educators and school personnel are prioritized in Phase 1B-Tier 3 of Missouri’s availability plan). The CDC guidance also adds, “Access to vaccination should not be considered a condition for reopening schools for in-person instruction. Even after teachers and staff are vaccinated, schools need to continue mitigation measures for the foreseeable future, including requiring masks in schools and physical distancing.”

USED COVID-19 Handbook
The first volume of USED’s new COVID-19 Handbook serves as a supplement to the new CDC operational strategy with practical recommendations for the school setting. It covers 11 topic areas, with practical examples and roadmaps to provide educators and staff with the tools they need to implement the CDC's recommended safe practices for in-person learning. The second volume of the USED Handbook, which should be published in the coming weeks, will provide specific strategies to address the unprecedented disruption COVID-19 created for students, educators and parents — especially for historically underserved students and communities that preliminary data suggest have been hit hardest by the pandemic. It is important to note that this USED Handbook does not have the force or effect of law and is not binding in any way (except where statutory or regulatory requirements are referenced).

August 13, 2020: DESE and DHSS have posted two additional documents regarding contact tracing

August 7, 2020: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar so school leaders, school nurses and local public health officials could learn more about the algorithm being used in the St. Louis area to address Protocol for Schools Assisting the Health Department in Close Contact Identification for COVID-19 Cases. View the webinar recording.

  • Here are the links to the additional algorithms developed by the Washington University Pediatric and Adolescent Ambulatory Research Consortium, which can also be found in the recently updated DHSS/DESE School Reopening FAQ document:
    • School Nurse Algorithm: shows flow chart for decision-making on screening students for COVID-19 symptoms
    • Clinician Algorithms: shows flow charts for healthcare professionals assessing for COVID-19 in children with symptoms both with and without known exposure

Missouri Hospital Association Partners with DESE on Special Projects: The Missouri Hospital Association, in partnership with DESE and other organizations, has developed two promotional pieces for schools to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the classroom.

  • Tips for Teachers document provides not only simple preventative measures educators can implement, but also helpful information about how to safely put on and remove personal protective equipment, including face coverings. School leaders are encouraged to share this graphic with their staff.
  • Evade! Destroy! Defend! The "Be a Hero and MASK UP!" campaign reminds students that they can be superheroes and use their own powers to vanquish COVID-19 in their schools and communities. Information is available in both English and Spanish, and while posters have been sent to schools statewide, additional printable information can be found here.

Webinar: DESE and DHSS hosted another School Reopening Webinar on August 3 to discuss the new information added to the guidance FAQ document. Follow these links to view the webinar recording (advance to 18:20 on the recording) and the PowerPoint slides.

June 16, 2020: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar to discuss school reopening guidance with school leaders and local health officials. Click here to view the recording. Please note that Commissioner Vandeven goes into detail about DESE-specific topics, including attendance reporting and funding, near the 47:00 mark in the video. The question and answer segment begins at 54:30. You can view the slide deck from the webinar here.

  • During the presentation, a representative from the Department of Economic Development discussed how schools can access the State of Missouri’s PPE Marketplace. Click here to review that information again. Click here to access the DHSS COVID-19 dashboard (scroll down and select the button in the middle of the page). You can continue to visit that site to view your county’s up-to-date health information.

May 22, 2020 / CDC Guidance: The CDC released the following guidance documents and tools to assist school leaders in making reopening decisions for K-12 schools:

May 12, 2020: The Missouri School Boards’ Association has published the “Pandemic Recovery Consideration: Re-Entry and Reopening of Schools” document for school leaders to review and consider when developing their local plans for returning to onsite teaching and learning.

May 6, 2020: The American Academy of Pediatrics released this guidance for schools on returning to in-person education.​​

DESE continues to urge school leaders to discuss reentry strategies with local health officials to determine the most appropriate actions to meet the unique needs and circumstances of your community.

Remote Teaching/Learning Resources & Alternate Educational Opportunities

August 20, 2020 MOCAP Webinar: The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in virtual education options for students. In this webinar, DESE provided information on the Missouri Online Course Access and Virtual School Program (MOCAP), including requirements for school districts and charter schools.

Missouri Connections Adds Virtual Tours / Career Trek Information: Click here to learn more about a pair of exciting opportunities! Take a virtual campus tour of 2- and 4-year schools across the nation. Visit, choose the school you want to tour, then select the video button on the school’s profile page. In addition, elementary students can get at-home access to Career Trek, a program designed especially for younger ages that introduces key, evidence-based career development concepts! For more information, email

Supports for Remote Teaching and Learning: Staff in DESE’s Office of College and Career Readiness ​compiled helpful teaching and learning resources for Missouri educators, students and parents who are operating remotely due to COVID-19. Information is broken down by subject area, and includes online, offline and hybrid options. An additional page of information has been created for Career & Technical Education content areas as well. Resources will continue to be added.

MOCAP Virtual Education Resources: It is important to emphasize that schools may have options for alternate educational opportunities. Schools may wish to implement virtual learning through a new or expanded contract with a vendor. See more information and guidance here on the MOCAP website.​

Using Federal Funds for Technology Equipment: Computers, tablets, modems, hotspots, etc. are allowable expenses under Title IV. A. and Title V. Title IV.A. allows for the purchase of technology for either “Access to a Well-Rounded Education” or “Individual Learning using Technology.” Title V (Rural and Low-Income Schools) allow for technology purchases. Budgets must be amended prior to obligation of funds. Purchasing equipment, such as connections in/to a child’s home that would ultimately be owned by a private citizen, is not an allowable expense.

Resources for Non-Public Schools
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

Per the extension of the State of Emergency to August 31, 2021, as announced by Governor Parson, the following education-related statutory waivers are in effect:

  • Use of School Buses — Section 163.161.1, RSMo
  • Professional Development Fund, etc. — Section 160.530, 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
  • Hearings for Unaccredited or Provisionally Accredited — Section 162.081.2, RSMo

The following education-related statutory waivers have been terminated:

  • 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
Sunshine Law Guidance during Emergency
Vaccine Information

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

Veteran's Education

Due to COVID-19, starting November 23, 2020, in-person services at VE facilities will be provided by appointment only. All other VE services will be provided virtually. Please find local office phone and email information below.

Webinars Hosted

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  • May 5, 2021: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar to discuss the ongoing updates, challenges and questions related to COVID-19. The slides from the webinar can be viewed here.
  • April 14, 2021: DESE hosted a webinar to discuss the COVID Relief Funds. The slides from the webinar can be viewed here
  • April 7, 2021: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar to discuss the ongoing updates, challenges and questions related to COVID-19. The slides from the webinar can be viewed here.
  • March 3, 2021: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar to discuss the ongoing updates, challenges and questions related to COVID-19. The slides from the webinar can be viewed here.
  • February 3, 2021: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar to discuss the ongoing updates, challenges and questions related to COVID-19. The slides from the webinar can be viewed here.
  • January 6, 2021: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar to discuss the ongoing updates, challenges and questions related to COVID-19. The slides from the webinar can be viewed here.
  • December 1, 2020: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar to discuss the ongoing updates, challenges and questions related to COVID-19. The slides from the webinar can be viewed here.

    As the 2020-21 school year continues, some information has been archived. To find that information, please click here. 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.