Dear Pattonville families and staff,
As we approach the end of the first semester, I want to update you on upcoming changes to our health and safety protocols related to COVID-19. A recent ruling by a circuit court judge in Cole County has challenged the authority of state and local health officials’ ability to issue certain health orders. While the ruling has put into question the authority of local health departments, our school district’s authority and obligation to prevent the spread of contagious diseases remains unchanged. Pattonville has a legal obligation to prevent the spread of contagious disease in schools, which is supported by Missouri State Statutes 167.191 and 171.011, Pattonville Board of Education Policy EBB (Communicable Diseases) and a Missouri Supreme Court ruling (State ex. Rel. O’Bannon v. Cole).
Over the last couple of weeks, we have researched what the court ruling means and how it impacts the health and safety strategies we use in Pattonville to keep students and staff safe and in school. In light of the judge’s ruling and in an effort to continue to keep everyone healthy and in school, the Pattonville Board of Education on Dec. 14 established the following updated protocols, effective Jan. 3:
- As in the past, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will not be permitted to attend school. Individuals must provide written verification to the district from a qualified physician or health department that provides the date when the individual can return to school.
- While close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases will no longer be automatically quarantined, students or staff who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms may be excluded from school until they either produce a physician’s diagnosis other than COVID-19 or produce a negative COVID-19 test.
- Masks and face coverings are still required for all students, staff and visitors at this time. The district will transition to a PK-12 mask-optional environment on Jan. 3, 2022.
- When the district transitions to a mask-optional environment, individual school COVID-19 positivity rates will continue to be monitored. If an individual school’s positivity rate reaches 2% (students and staff combined), all individuals in the school will be required to wear masks for two weeks. If the school positivity rate is below the 2% threshold after two weeks, optional masking returns. If after two weeks the school positivity rate continues to be 2% or higher, individuals will be required to wear masks for an additional week or until the school positivity rate is below 2%.
- Students will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Transportation requirement of masking while riding district transportation.
Pattonville will also continue to record positive cases on its COVID-19 dashboard, located on our COVID-19 information hub at bit.ly/PSDCOVIDinfohub.
We will continue to monitor COVID-19 rates in our area and in our schools and revisit these protocols to determine if any changes are necessary. The good news is that we anticipate the new changes to mean fewer disruptions to student learning going forward. We hope everyone has a healthy and safe winter as we navigate the continually changing circumstances associated with this global pandemic.
Tim Pecoraro, Ed.D.