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Coronavirus quarantine changes for Columbia Public Schools start Jan. 4

Coronavirus quarantine changes for Columbia Public Schools start Jan. 4

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Coronavirus quarantine protocols will change in Columbia Public Schools after a school board vote Monday which included getting rid of the district's mask mandate.

The board voted 4-3 on the new policy that will take effect when students return from winter break on Jan. 4. Only students with symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test will be required to quarantine. The previous policy was to quarantine students in close contact with those who tested positive.

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests anyone not vaccinated who is exposed should be quarantined.

Superintendent Brian Yearwood cited Attorney General Eric Schmitt's letter sent out last week telling schools to stop enforcing COVID mandates in suggesting the change to school policy. The letter said schools and local health departments don't have the power to enact or enforce health mandates, such as mask mandates or quarantine requirements, due to a ruling in Cole County.

Schmitt subsequently sent the district a second letter saying it was in violation of the judge's order and that the attorney general's office was starting an investigation. Several parents who argued against the district's mask and quarantine rules Monday night cited Schmitt's letter. Schmitt also has an active lawsuit challenging the district mask rules, though it wasn't immediately clear Tuesday what would happen to that lawsuit after the school board's vote.

CPS has quarantined thousands of students since the pandemic began. As of Tuesday morning, 224 students were in quarantine district-wide. The change should lead to fewer students in quarantine when school resumes next year.

The CPS dashboard shows positivity numbers have increased since Thanksgiving Break. Last month the seven-day positivity rate was 12.3%. The most recent data shows the rate has nearly doubled to 23.3%.

Check back for more on this developing story and watch ABC 17 News at 5 and 6.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia Public Schools
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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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