Educators Speak Out About School COVID Operating Procedures

In light of Gov. Parson’s modifications to COVID-19 restrictions in school, the NEA raises concerns


Sruthi Ramesh

The Wentzville National Education Association urges Wentzville School District to stick with CDC guidelines in school.

Sabryn Gibson, Reporter

On Nov. 12, Governor Parson announced modifications to Missouri’s K-12 school reopening and operating procedures. These modifications state that proper mask-wearing can prevent students from being contact traced. So if a student or staff member was around someone diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual exposed would not have to quarantine if they were both wearing their masks properly. Gov. Parson still encourages those exposed to watch for symptoms and stay at home at the first sign of sickness. 

Julia Luetkenhaus

In response to this, the Fort Zumwalt, St. Charles, and Wentzville National Education Associations (NEA) got together and drafted a letter communicating their concerns and also compiled a survey. Ms. Julia Luetkenhaus, the president of the Wentzville NEA, shared this letter (pictures to the left) at the St. Charles County Council meeting on Nov. 30. The letter stated that as educators, they have a duty to protect their students and felt that this modification would not be doing that. The NEA would like to stick with CDC guidelines; they feel that this would be the best option to keep the number of cases down and protect our staff and students. The NEA ended their letter urging the leadership at the St. Charles County school districts and the St. Charles County Department of Public Health to do what’s safest for our community and return to using CDC guidelines.

The NEA also sent out a survey to teachers asking how they feel about the new modifications Gov. Parson announced. The result was overwhelming with 76.7% of Wentzville staff who are NEA members disagreeing with Gov. Parson and believe we should follow CDC guidelines. There were 12.3% of teachers who agree with Governor Parson but still have many questions/reserves and 11% agree with Governor Parson completely. 

“Although I hate it, I honestly think the safest method is virtual. Or hybrid,” Liberty’s NEA representative, Ms. Rosner said.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann also spoke at the St. Charles County Council meeting on Nov. 30, referring to the rising COVID cases due to exposure in school.

“We’ve tried to get our kids back in school,” Ehlmann said, compared to other neighboring counties. 

He also mentioned the exposure data collected by contract tracers, which detailed the increase in cases in St. Charles County. In July (before school started), it was zero; and “last week the exposure due to school was 30%,” according to Ehlmann. 

He explained that the CDC guidelines make it difficult to keep kids in school so districts are now presenting new guidelines similar to what Gov. Parson released. 

The Wentzville School District made the decision to continue with the original plan of returning middle schools on Dec. 7. The high schools will return to in-person learning on Jan. 4. 

According to a letter released by WSD Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain on Nov. 24, the district will adhere to a Modified Quarantine Protocols for Contacts in Schools that began on Monday, Nov. 30.

Under the new guidelines:

  • Individuals exposed to a COVID-positive person at school when both are properly wearing masks will be put on a modified quarantine.
    • The student or staff member will be able to leave home for school/work.
    • Outside of attending school/work, the student or staff member should be at home. (No carpooling and no extracurricular activities.)
  • Standard quarantine still applies to anyone exposed outside of school hours or exposed in any situation where masks were not properly used.
  • Staff and students under a current standard quarantine need to adhere to their current release date.
  • Staff and students on a modified quarantine who develop COVID-19 symptoms should revert to a standard quarantine and stay home.

Cain said in the letter to parents and staff: “Please note, our contact tracing efforts will continue, unchanged, and staff and students will still be notified if they have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive. They will also still be required to quarantine for 14 days; the only change is that the student or staff member will be permitted to come to school or work in the WSD during their modified quarantine.”