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.

Alternative Methods of Instruction

Visit DESE’s Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) webpage.

COVID-19 Testing: Antigen Testing 

Antigen Testing Program - Relaunched with New ACON Flow Flex Tests

DHSS reopened the state’s antigen testing program on February 10, 2022. Due to the nationwide shortage of antigen tests and issues with receiving tests from our distributor (Abbott), it was necessary for the state to suspend that program indefinitely in early January. The state still cannot obtain Abbott BinaxNOW tests, but has identified two distributors with an adequate supply of ACON Flow Flex rapid antigen tests, allowing the state to reopen our antigen testing program. See information about ACON Flow Flex here.

Please note that schools can continue to use BinaxNOW antigen tests until they expire.

Schools Must Re-Apply Now to Participate

All existing antigen testing program participants will need to re-apply to receive ACON Flow Flex tests, complete the required training (there’s no video; just reviewing information online) and provide verification of that training, resubmit a test plan that includes an infectious waste disposal plan, and provide the locations of testing in order to be approved to receive tests.

It is important to note that ACON Flow Flex tests are at-home tests, different from the BinaxNOW tests, which were point-of-care tests. However, because K-12 schools would be administering these tests in a congregate setting (i.e. at school) and as an employer (when testing staff members), these tests still require a CLIA waiver. The transition to this different rapid antigen test requires the establishment of a new statewide Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) and thus verification of locations of testing and validation of training of all test administrators. Thus, it is not possible to simply transition existing BinaxNOW users to this new program and begin ordering ACON Flow Flex tests.

New standing physician’s orders specific to ACON Flow Flex have been established for all tests users previously under a DHSS standing physician’s order. These new orders are available here.

Your district/school has the option within the application to select that your facility will not administer the tests onsite, and instead hand them out to your staff and/or students for them to administer the test at home. This is a decision you can make at the local level, noting that there could be a concern with test accuracy when tests are administered at home. If you choose this option, you are not required to report test result data.

If your district/school plans to use ACON Flow Flex tests for a Test to Stay/Test to Play Program, or as part of your Screening Testing Program, the tests should be administered onsite at a school facility, not sent home with staff/students.

Different Test Quantities

The new ACON Flow Flex tests will be available to order in increments of 50, 100, 150, 300, and increments of 300 thereafter. We ask that you only order the number of tests your district/school will need for a two week period. These tests expire after December 2022 (12 months from date of manufacture) and are self-contained (since they are technically at-home tests), so the quantity of tests you order can be shared among your schools/buildings as needed. Please see the language in the application re: centralizing testing/distribution to other sites within your area. If your district/school prefers to centralize the ordering of tests and share the tests with other districts/schools in your area, only the centralized shipping location needs to complete the application. The other districts/schools that will receive tests from this central location would be listed in the Testing Locations portion of the application.

Application Information

The DHSS Rapid Antigen Test Kit Application and Resource Page for ACON Flow Flex is open now. Watch the application tutorial here. The page includes the initial application and a subject index (right side bar) to answer questions the state received during the previous distribution of antigen tests. The page also provides information about where to direct specific questions that test users may have.

Applications will typically be reviewed within 24-48 hours (M-F). You will receive an email once your application is approved confirming that you may submit an order for test kits.

Email AntigenTesting@health.mo.gov if you have any questions.

Update: BinaxNOW Expiration Date Extension

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized another expiration date extension for BinaxNOW tests. The shelf life of those tests can now be extended three (3) months from the current expiration date listed on the outside of the box. Click here to view the complete list of BinaxNOW test kit lot numbers impacted by this change. The lot number is located on the outside of the box.

Please note: Individual components inside the box will have varying expiration dates; do not pay attention to those dates. Only pay attention to the expiration date on the outside of the box beside the hour glass icon.

Schools that have tests in your inventory that have expired are encouraged to re-check the expiration dates on your inventory to see if you can now use those tests, as this FDA announcement allows use of expired tests up to three months from current expiration date (see more information here). 

There is no guarantee another extension will be granted, so if your school cannot use your current inventory of antigen tests before they expire, we strongly encourage you to share your tests with neighboring schools/districts.

CDC & U.S. Department of Education Information
Early Childhood Information

First Steps Information

Operating Guidance for Schools

U.S. Department of Education's 2022 Guide to Staying in School In-Person

Operating Guidance for Schools

DHSS and DESE have compiled 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 additions:

  • Option 4 – Test to Stay: See pg. 5 for complete details about the 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 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 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.

In December 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released two studies around Test to Stay programs and, as a result, updated its guidance for schools to reflect the use of Test to Stay. Here are the links to review the new information from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and the CDC:

 

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.

 


Vaccine Information

Visit MOStopsCOVID.com for vaccine information.

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, 2020-21, and 2021-22 school years has been archived here.