In light of growing evidence that suggests the low risk of COVID-19 transmission among children as well as guidance from state authorities, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department will allow strict modified quarantine procedures in K-12 schools under limited circumstances. This means in some circumstances, children may continue to go to school during their quarantine period, despite being identified as a close contact to someone with COVID-19.
School districts that choose to adopt these guidelines may implement the new policies immediately. It will be up to school districts to determine whether they will change their processes, and if so, how to implement those changes. Schools may adopt stricter guidelines, if they choose.
Strict modified quarantine will only be permitted among children in schools where masking is universal. Teachers and other adult staff will not be eligible for modified quarantine. Additionally, this will exclusively extend to the classroom only—not to outside activities or other circumstances.
Since the beginning of the school year, 8% of all positive COVID-19 cases in Greene County were among students ages 5 through 17. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is partnering with area schools, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Washington University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine the impact mitigation measures such as masking and physical distancing have on school transmission of COVID-19. Additionally, the Department will work closely with area schools to assess individual situations and will adjust the approach as appropriate.
Acceptable circumstances for modified quarantine in schools
There are several conditions that must be met for students to be eligible for modified quarantine.
Modified quarantine will only apply to children in the school setting where both the infected individual and the close contact were masked at the time of contact. If at any time, a child was within 6 feet of an infectious individual for more than 15 minutes while either person was unmasked, they would not be eligible for modified quarantine.
Schools must adopt and enforce a universal mask ordinance for everyone ages 2 and up without a medical exemption.
Extended direct physical contact with an infectious individual requires standard quarantine.
Schools must have significant mitigation strategies in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
A procedure for screening for COVID-19 and immediate isolation of anyone with symptoms must be in place.
Students in classrooms with more than one positive case linked to classroom spread are not eligible for modified quarantine
During the modified quarantine time, the child may only leave home to go to school. They may not participate in extracurricular activities or otherwise potentially expose others. During the school day, children are not permitted to participate in any activity in which a mask cannot be worn, and they must be seated at least 6 feet away from other students during lunch.
The detailed guidance can be found HERE. It builds upon procedures outlined by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. That updated guidance is available HERE.