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Guidance for schools released; Missouri governor encourages reopening of schools

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

As the return to school is quickly approaching Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday he encourages children and teachers return to school.

Parson, speaking at his only COVID-19 briefing of the week, said the state is now better prepared to handle the current increase in cases than it was when the pandemic began. The remarks came during a briefing that focused in part on the reopening of schools.

Parson said after speaking with many school districts throughout the state, he was very pleased hearing their plans to safely return whether that be in-person, virtual learning or a combination of both. 

Parson said there was a common trend throughout his conversations with superintendents. 

"People were ready for the kids to go back to school," Parson said. "Most of them I would say in rural Missouri for sure 90%, most of the superintendents say their parents are wanting their children back in school."

Parson said there is no one size fits all in the schools, as every school district will look different based on its unique needs to help keep the students, teachers and staff safe once school begins.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released information Monday regarding frequently asked questions for when students and educators return to school buildings. 

These questions address what to do if a student or staff becomes symptomatic at school, how to handle positive cases of COVID-19 in school communities and how to best assist local health officials with contact identification and tracing.

The document says if someone does develop COVID-19 symptoms, DESE recommends all students and staff members who become symptomatic while at the school require immediate isolation and should wear a medical-grade mask until they are no longer in the building.

According to the document, DESE also recommends that each school have a room or space, separate from the nurse’s office, where students or staff members who are feeling sick or appear ill can be evaluated and/or wait to be picked up by a parent/guardian.

DESE also recommends schools to require strict physical distancing and keep a record of all people who entered the room the potential infected person was in.

Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the state health department, said the state and DESE have worked very hard to ensure that if someone does show COVID-19 symptoms at school, then that process of notifying those potentially affected is done readily.

"It's just vital that as soon as a student is identified that student," Williams said. "Either self report, or that the school become aware of that, and that needs to be done in a very time sensitive way. That involves very rapid contact tracing. So you need to get the test results back, you need to notify the student as you can, and you need to notify the school as you can.”

Coronavirus / Education / Governor of Missouri / Jefferson City Video / K-12 education / Missouri / Missouri Politics / Politics / Top Stories / Video
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Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.

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