Mayor Lucas, KCMO Health Dept. refute Gov. Parson’s updated K-12 school reopening policies

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Mayor Lucas at WWI Museum on Veteran’s Day 2020. // Courtesy Lucas’ social media

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced new COVID-19 guidelines for schools in the state. This comes on the same day Missouri set a new record for positive cases, as well as the University of Missouri announcing it’ll move to remote learning after Thanksgiving break.

The CDC guidance recommends that anyone who has had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days, regardless of whether they were wearing a mask at the time.

According to Parson’s statement, “proper mask-wearing may now prevent individuals from being identified as close contacts in K-12 schools that have implemented a mask mandate. This means that if both individuals at school–the person diagnosed with COVID-19 and the person exposed to the positive case–have masks on and are wearing them correctly, the individual exposed does not need to quarantine.”

“Schools that are consistently implementing COVID-19 mitigation strategies remain among the safest places for our students,” Parson says. “We believe this change will lead to more schools encouraging proper mask usage, helping to further protect students and educators from the spread of the virus.”

This sounds like a disaster, as Rex Archer, director of the KCMO Health Department, tweeted that the department recorded 739 new cases over the last 48 hours. It also has more cases in children under 10 in the first two weeks of November compared to the entirety of September.

Almost immediately after Parson released this information, Mayor Quinton Lucas released a statement, saying Kansas City will not follow the updated, arbitrarily loosened guidelines.

“As we have since the onset of this virus, Kansas City appreciates the discretion Gov. 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,” Lucas says. “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.”

Lucas added that there are many unknowns in relation to the spread of the virus. The Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence noted that there are live cases of transmission in the state to students, teachers, and staff inside of school buildings.

Masks continue to be one of the best ways to slow the virus’s spread. Maybe Parson acknowledging its impact will lead to more people wearing them, but it’s not enough. Masks aren’t supposed to substitute proper quarantine measures, whether that’s in school or elsewhere.

Maybe the kids will go home and get over it when they catch the virus. Probably not, but that’s what Parson hopes happens.

Categories: Politics