JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — New guidelines will allow students in Jefferson County schools who are exposed to positive COVID-19 cases in the classroom to avoid at-home quarantine if masks are worn and other measures are in place.
Everyone must wear masks in the classroom during the full 14-day quarantine period, according to the guidelines the county released Thursday.
Schools must also meet a certain threshold to be eligible to implement the guidelines. School buildings with less than 4% of their population who are currently positive for the coronavirus, including students, teachers and staff, would be eligible.
School buildings with a population of 4% or higher with positive COVID-19 cases are not eligible and will need to implement an at-home quarantine.
The county is in the process of collecting data to determine the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases within each school.
The modified quarantine guidelines are an option for schools, students and parents; they are not required to implement them.
“The most important thing is to try to keep our students and teachers safely in the classroom for physical and mental health, but we also recognize that delta variant is vastly different than the original strain of COVID-19,” Jefferson County Public Health Preparedness Supervisor Jeana Vidacak said in a press release.
The county made the determination based on data that shows transmission is relatively low in school settings compared to home settings. Data from 12 Jefferson County schools collected during the 2020-21 school year shows that those who came in contact with someone at home (parent, sibling, caregiver) resulted in a positive case 3% to 24% of the time. By comparison, those who came in contact with a positive case at school resulted in a positive case 1% to 3% of the time.
“As we start the new year, it is a delicate balance of meeting children’s educational, emotional, and health needs,” Hillsboro School District Superintendent, Dr. Jon Isaacson said in the release. “We collectively feel it is vital to keep our kids safely in school after a year when so many days were missed due to contact-related quarantine.”
The modified quarantine guidelines will not apply to extracurricular activities.
And in-home quarantine requirements will apply if the exposure occurs outside of the school environment.
The Jefferson County Health Department will host a Facebook Live on Thursday, Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the guidance and answer questions.
Read the county's full guidance below: