(SAVANNAH, Mo.) Students in the Savannah R3 School District will be required to wear masks while in school.
The announcement came on Friday, a day after Governor Parson announced changes to guidelines regarding students and educators quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19 while in school.
Here is what the district announced:
On November 12, 2020, Governor Parson announced that the Missouri Department of Health and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has changed the guidance around schools and contact tracing. Under the updated guidance, proper mask-wearing may now prevent individuals from being identified as close contacts in K-12 schools. This means that if both individuals at school – the person diagnosed with COVID-19 and the person exposed to the positive case – have masks on and are wearing them correctly, the individual exposed does not need to quarantine.
In response to this updated guidance and guidance from the Andrew County Health Department, the Savannah R3 School District has made the following changes:
Beginning Monday, November 16th, all SR3 campuses will enforce a mask mandate.
• Savannah High School students will continue the Fixed Blended Education model through the end of the first semester. When students are less than six feet apart, proper mask-wearing will be required. Close contacts within 6 feet of a positive case who are not wearing a mask will be asked to quarantine.
• Savannah Middle School students will continue to be required to properly wear a mask when they are less than 6 feet apart. Close contacts within 6 feet of a positive case who are not wearing a mask will be asked to quarantine.
• K-5 Elementary students will now be required to wear a mask in the classroom. A positive case in an elementary classroom will no longer require the entire class to quarantine so long as proper mask-wearing is being enforced. Students will be allowed regular mask breaks.
• Early Learning Center students will not be required to wear a mask in the classroom. However, A positive case in a classroom will require the entire class to quarantine, regardless of the presence of a mask.
• All students and staff members are expected to continue monitoring their health daily. With so many active cases in the county, it is vital that sick kids (and staff) stay home!
A few exceptions:
• Masks will not be worn while students are eating. Anyone sitting within six feet of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 during lunch will be considered a close contact, regardless of the presence of a mask.
• It may not be possible for students to wear a mask during PE. Anyone within six feet of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 will be considered a close contact when masks are not being worn.
• This guidance does NOT extend to extracurricular activities or athletics. The district will continue to follow the posted MEC guidelines.
• Any student or staff member who is already on quarantine must complete their full quarantine before returning to school. The new guidelines do not allow for close contacts to return to school early, regardless of the presence of a mask.
Proper Mask Wearing:
• Mask must be clean, and free from damage
• Mask must cover the nose and mouth
• Gaiters will not be allowed
• Face Shields will not be allowed
This new guidance will not have any effect on other mitigation strategies in place. We will continue to emphasize handwashing and proper hygiene, we will continue to keep students 6 feet apart when possible, and we will continue to send home students and staff members who aren’t feeling well. However, this new guidance will allow more students to remain in school and lessen the number of students who need to quarantine.