The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have boots on the ground in Missouri Monday to begin a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 study within some K-12 schools. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams says the state pitched the study idea to the CDC.
He tells Missourinet two groups of students will be tested for COVID-19 over a 30-day period.
“Students who are identified as close contacts at school that are wearing masks. So, if the patient who was identified and the student was identified at school, then in one arm of the study, they can still come to school. Now, they will quarantine when they are at home when they leave school,” says Williams.
The other group being tested are students considered a close contact who are required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they were wearing a mask.
Teachers will be included in the case and contact investigation.
“The prevailing evidence to date after about eight months is, is that there is a very low risk of catching COVID-19 at school just from proximity if you are wearing a mask,” says Dr. Williams.
Missouri does not have a statewide mask requirement. Earlier this month, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education loosened the guidelines for making students and staff quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19, if they were properly wearing masks at school.
Williams did not have information about the number of schools and which schools are involved.
“You need to check a certain number to reach what is called the power to make a conclusion. So, that all is being done by our epidemiologists at the CDC, Washington University, and St. Louis University. They will determine how many people you need to study to make that observation,” Dr. Williams says.
He says the results of the study will be published for the nation’s school systems to see.
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