We have heard from numerous schools that the current quarantine guidelines are making in-person instruction very challenging. Thus far, the vast majority of cases and outbreaks appear to be coming from non-structured settings (sports, social events, extracurricular activities) and not from structured activities (specifically classrooms where students are spaced and wearing masks). In order to improve options for in-class instruction MSDH is evaluating the option of allowing close contacts to a case (<6 feet for >15 minutes) in the classroom setting to continue to attend school under certain circumstance, so long as universal masking has been observed. This option would not be applicable to students exposed in non-classroom settings. We are still reviewing additional data and considering what the updated guidance would include.
In addition, due to a freedom of information request we will be releasing data on the number of cases, outbreaks and number quarantined by school sometime next week. Based on state law we cannot withhold this information. We encourage every school district to individually share local information with the public. We will however embargo numerical data that fall below a certain threshold to preserve individual privacy.
Thank you all for the exceptional work you have been doing to prevent transmission and provide quality education. The restart of Fall school has exceeded our expectations and has for the most part been an amazing success.
Thomas Dobbs, MD, MPH
State Health Officer