JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV.com) - The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) along with the state health department, have issued a new guideline for school districts on when to quarantine students, that could keep more kids in school.
It's being called the "test to stay" option and is getting favorable reviews from some parents but not others. Donna Kast has a 16-year old son who attends Francis Howell North High School and has had to quarantine at home because of potential exposure to COVID-19 from someone who tested positive.
"As long as they, you know, test negative I think that would be fine. Because it's hard for parents that work, if we can't be there one-on-one with them to guarantee that they're going to do their work. I just think it's better to be in the classroom," she said.
Recently, some parents and politicians have complained about quarantine policies because they believe too many students are missing too much classroom instruction.
The "tests to stay" option is the 4th option in DESE's guidelines to districts on how and when to quarantine students. It basically says students can stay in the classroom if certain conditions are met. They include: the exposure was not from a household member, they test negative a minimum of 3 times during the first 7 days, the student wears a mask for the 14-day quarantine period and the student shows no symptoms.
A webinar was held Tuesday afternoon so that health officials and DESE could explain the options and answer questions. A check of area school districts found most holding off on implementing the new policy for now. A spokesman with the St. Louis Public School District said, because of the strict rules set by the St. Louis Public Health Department, it wouldn't be possible for the district to use the "test to stay" quarantine option. A parent group in the Wentzville School District called "WSD Parents for Student Success" issued the following statement:
"On behalf of the 1600+ members/parents of the WSD Parents for Student Success Facebook group that desires our state leaders, officials, DHSS and DESE focus on the education of our children. Missouri is down 35-40% in our state proficiency scores. It’s time to focus on education. We are against the unnecessary testing of healthy children. No other virus requires a test to receive an education. It’s time to ask DESE and school district superintendents what is their plan to increase proficiency scores in math, reading and science."