Schools in the Ozarks react to new state guidelines on COVID-19 exposures

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 11:25 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education released new guidelines for students, teachers, and staff directly exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Missouri education officials said faculty and students will be allowed to stay in school and participate in extracurricular activities if they follow new guidelines.

The new test-to-stay rules announced this week allows anyone exposed to someone with COVID-19 to remain in school if they get multiple negative test results. The new recommendation requires the individual to have no COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days with at least three rapid antigen tests taken in the first seven days after exposure.

Bolivar Superintendent of Schools Richard Asbill said the district will most likely move forward with the new guidelines.

“This is about what are the facts? What is the information that we have,” said Superintendent Asbill. “We’ll be able to make a transition now to a test to stay option for those students that are close contacts. I think this is a great opportunity for us to have a learning experience, as well as be respectful of each other’s opinions.”

Springfield Public School’s director of health, Jean Grabeel, said they frequently reach out to the health department when new recommendations from the state come out.

“We’re in constant communication with them,” said Grabeel. “When there are any changes, recommendations that come through from the state level, then we start meeting with them even more frequently as needed to have discussions about that.”

Grabeel said the safety of the students and staff always comes first.

“Obviously, we want to do what we can to keep children in school. That’s our goal,” said Grabeel. “New studies, new research, that come out, the changes that are being suggested, we work on that to see how feasible is that to implement within our system?”

DESE officials said these guidelines will be left for local health agencies to decide to follow or not.

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