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 

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. 

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
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
#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.

Reopening and Operating Guidance for Schools

Reopening & Operating Guidance for Schools

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and DESE continue to update the Missouri School Reopening & Operating Guidance document as needed to provide state-level guidance about K-12 school operations amid the pandemic.

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

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

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

The following education-related statutory waiver was terminated on July 1, 2021: 

  • Professional Development Fund, etc. — Section 160.530, 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:

  • 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

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

Need special assistance to access this content? Submit a request to receive a captioned video or transcript.

Outdated COVID-19 information from the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years has been archived here.