Wright City schools ending quarantines, but keep other COVID measures | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

Derrick Forsythe, Correspondent

When students in the Wright City R-II School District return to the classroom from holiday break on Jan. 3, they will see decreased COVID-19 safety measures.

Wright City School Board members voted during their monthly meeting on Dec. 16 to lighten the district’s COVID protocols and lift all quarantine requirements heading into the second semester. This step is part of a gradual phasing out of guidelines that have been in place since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

“The biggest change for us was eliminating the quarantines,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger. “We were already voluntary for masks in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. There will no longer be any quarantine or exclusion.”

Exclusion was a modified quarantine that allowed students to come to school but restricted outside activities.

Berger said the district feels there are enough mitigation tools available to individuals outside of schools that families can take those decisions into their own hands.

“The main factor in this decision was simply the availability of vaccines,” said Berger. “With it now being available to students at any age, we feel like families have that option, and we don’t have to mandate masks or quarantine.”

In other public school districts, changes to COVID policy have been directly influenced by directives from the Missouri attorney general and a court ruling out of Cole County. Berger said those considerations weren’t much of a factor for Wright City.

“The attorney general’s decision caused some chaos initially and impacted the department of health and senior services and local health departments, but as information continued to come out in the days following, I’m not sure it had a huge impact on our decision,” he said.

R-II has decided to continue its contact tracing and test to stay program, which was implemented in November and uses testing to monitor individuals who had contact with a COVID case so they can safely stay in school.

“The test to stay will be done on a voluntary basis,” said Berger. “We felt it’s important to continue offering test to stay to those who are willing to use it. This is a great service to keep providing our families.”

As it concluded the first semester on Dec. 17 and headed into a two-week break, the district saw a rise in positive COVID-19 cases.

“We did see a spike that last week of school,” said Berger. “It’s still questionable about the place of transmission, although we did have one incident we were pretty confident was transmission within the school.”

So far this year, R-II has had 113 positive cases across all buildings. Currently, 13 active cases have been identified, including seven at the high school.

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