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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Schools are set to reopen in a few weeks and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has released guidance for schools to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the guidance, school districts should prioritize COVID-19 prevention strategies to keep students in person. The latest CDC guidance emphasizes that because students benefit from in-person learning.

The new guidance doesn’t recommend Missouri schools requiring masks for students. However, it states that “policies regarding masks should be made at the discretion of the local boards of education.”

The CDC recommends masks be worn indoors by all individuals (age two and older) who are not fully vaccinated. The CDC also recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask-wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.

When it is not possible to remain three feet apart, it is important to use other prevention strategies such as masking.