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DHSS & DESE Address Additional Frequently Asked Questions about School Reopening

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 14:00

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) updated the previously released FAQ document today, answering additional frequently asked questions (FAQs) about K-12 school reopening health-related guidance. The document now contains information about the reactive strategies Missouri schools need to be prepared to address upon reopening, including what to do if a student or staff member becomes symptomatic at school, how to handle positive cases of COVID-19 in the school community and how to best be prepared to assist local health officials with contact identification and contact tracing.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the persistent spread of the virus continues to impact decision-making about the start of the 2020-21 school year,” Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said. “Local school leaders, working closely with their local public health officials, will continue to monitor public health data in their community in making decisions on how to safely reopen their schools. Clear protocol and continued collaboration between local leaders will be crucial to safely opening our schools and keeping them open.”

The first phase of the FAQ document was published on July 9, addressing the proactive strategies that school leaders can implement to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and best protect their students, staff members and communities, including recommended protocols regarding screening, physical distancing and face coverings.

Overall, this document aims to provide additional clarity and consistency for Missouri school leaders and public health officials as they make decisions about school reopening strategies at the local level. 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.

In May, representatives from DHSS and DESE worked with the Missouri School Boards’ Association to publish the “Pandemic Recovery Consideration: Re-Entry and Reopening of Schools” document, which contains more thorough and detailed information for school leaders to review and consider when developing their local plans for returning to onsite teaching and learning.