KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Many parents are questioning updated guidance released Thursday by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, while others are calling it a step forward.
“I mean, I wanted to jump out of my chair, I can’t even explain it," said Tanya Foster, a parent in the Smithville School District. "That’s the happiest thing I’ve heard basically in 2020."
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, parents have been passionate about their children's education.
“You know, there’s no end in sight," said Julie Poorman, a parent in North Kansas City Schools. "In March it will be a year, and we can’t just keep putting our lives on hold and education on hold because of a pandemic, that’s my opinion. I think we’re doing our kids a horrible injustice."
Most school districts throughout the Kansas City metro are doing virtual learning or have shifted to a hybrid model. Few have transitioned to in-person learning full-time.
“Our district is so big that I think if we did all five days a week in-person, that could be disastrous," said Sheryl Watkins, a parent in Liberty Public Schools.
School districts have drawn up and erased guidelines numerous times as recommendations have changed throughout the pandemic.
On Thursday, Governor Parson announced updated quarantine guidelines for K-12 schools.
“Because transmission within our schools appears to be low, and masks continue to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus, Missouri is modifying its guidance," Parson said.
Parson said in his news conference that a properly worn mask will prevent students from being identified as a close contact. That means if a student was around someone who has tested positive but was wearing their mask correctly, they do not have to quarantine. Only the positive patient would have to isolate.
This guidance by Parson goes against what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.
“Masking makes a difference. I wholeheartedly endorse wearing masks, wearing masks properly," said Dr. Sarah Boyd with the Saint Luke's Health System. "I think one of my concerns from a school perspective is being sure that the mask is worn properly by both the people around the person that’s identified as positive and the positive person."
The CDC says anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 total minutes or more would be considered a close contact and should quarantine.
School districts have the choice of which guidance they want to follow. After Parson's announcement, the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department said it would not recommend the updated guidance to schools.