KC Mayor splits from Missouri governor on new guidance for student quarantines

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mayor Quinton Lucas is diverging from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on guidelines regarding when a student should quarantine due to potential exposure to the coronavirus.

“Based upon the advice of our Health Director and given the increasing uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in our community, we respectfully cannot recommend schools in Kansas City follow the updated non-quarantine guidance shared from Jefferson City today,” Lucas said in a statement.

Just hours before the mayor’s rebuttal, Gov. Parson loosened the state recommendation that say when a student should quarantine.

The new guidance states people don’t need to quarantine after being in close contact with someone who tests positive if everyone is wearing a face mask. Instead, those individuals should self-monitor for any changes or symptoms.

If either of the parties is not wearing a mask at the time of contact, those who have not tested positive should still quarantine, the guidance states. Everyone is still encouraged to wear masks.

“Masks continue to be one of the best ways to slow the spread of this virus, and I hope the governor’s acknowledgment of their benefit will encourage more to wear them,” Lucas stated. “Still, masks are not a substitute for proper quarantine measures in schools or elsewhere—particularly as we’ve seen a concerning spike in cases over the past several months.”

Missouri is currently under the worst increase in coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The state is averaging a 40.8% positivity rate as of today, the highest it has ever been. Though deaths remain lower than before, hospitals in mid-Missouri have become so inundated that they are sending their patients to Kansas City and St. Louis.

Gov. Parson said in his news conference today that schools maintaining a COVID-19 regiment remain among the safest places for students.

Several area school districts, including Shawnee Mission, Liberty, North Kansas City and Lawrence said they’re considering moving back to full virtual learning. Staley High School will return to full virtual this week, and the Gardner-Edgerton School District will remain virtual until at least January.

Read Lucas’ full statement, here:

“Based upon the advice of our Health Director and given the increasing uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in our community, we respectfully cannot recommend schools in Kansas City follow the updated non-quarantine guidance shared from Jefferson City today.

“Masks continue to be one of the best ways to slow the spread of this virus, and I hope the governor’s acknowledgment of their benefit will encourage more to wear them. Still, masks are not a substitute for proper quarantine measures in schools or elsewhere—particularly as we’ve seen a concerning spike in cases over the past several months.

“As we have since the onset of this virus, Kansas City appreciates the discretion Governor Parson has given us to set COVID-19 protections fit for our community and that exceed the state’s guidance. We will continue to take seriously the recommendations set forth by our nation’s leading scientific experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of today, CDC guidance regarding quarantine periods in schools has not changed, even when masks are present at the time of COVID-19 exposure. Kansas City will continue to follow that guidance.

“There remain many unknowns related to the spread of COVID-19. As the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence noted this morning, there are known cases of transmission in our state to students, teachers, and staff inside of school buildings. I know our teachers and administrators are working diligently to ensure asymptomatic students and staff do not spread this virus to their classmates or their families at home.

“I will continue working with our local, state, and federal health experts to best protect Kansas Citians, and I continue to encourage all to wear masks, wash their hands, avoid large gatherings, and, importantly, stay home when sick.”

Mayor Quinton Lucas

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