Governor Mike Parson and state education director Margie Vandeven have loosened the guidelines for making students and staff quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19, if both people were properly wearing masks.
Vandeven explained at a press conference Thursday:
“Under the updated guidance, proper mask-wearing may now prevent individuals from being identified as close contacts in K-12 schools that have implemented a mask mandate. This means that if both individuals at school – the person diagnosed with COVID-19 and the person exposed to the positive case – have masks on and are wearing them correctly, the individual exposed does not need to quarantine.”
The governor says this will reduce the strain on school staffing — and keep students in classes. He added that this should ease the burden on parents who work in healthcare.
Governor Parson also brought in a pediatric specialist who support the decision. Dr. Rachel Orscheln, Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“Given the high rates of COVID-19 in our communities, it is inevitable that some children and adolescents will test positive,” Dr. Orscheln said. “We also know that some of these children will likely, at some point in their illness, be at school. However, we have learned that in schools where students and staff are always wearing masks and practicing physical distancing, this virus does not spread as easily as it does in other places where these strategies are not always used.”
To view the updated K-12 school guidance, click here.