Donald Kauerauf, the new director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, says the state is working on a "test to stay" quarantine alternative.

MISSOURI − Donald Kauerauf, the new director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, says the state is working on a "test to stay" quarantine alternative. 

The test to stay option allows close contacts to stay in school and forgo quarantining if they continue to test negative for COVID-19 and don’t exhibit symptoms. For example, a person exposed to a classmate when masks were not warn consistently and correctly. 

The option was discussed with DHSS during a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education webinar last week. 

Kauerauf told the Missouri Independent the specifics are still being worked out for what a test to stay model may look like in Missouri.

“That’s a new procedure that several states have implemented successfully that allows kids to stay in school,” Kauerauf told the Missouri Independent. “And one of the things we were clear in our message was our desire that we need to match up public health with the fact that we need to keep kids in school.”

Kauerauf stressed it's an option for school districts, but not a requirement.

The webinar also noted the frequency and timing of testing needs to be developed, as well as the availability of tests, the infrastructure of testing and managing results. 

Neighboring states Kansas and Illinois each have their own test to stay plan. 

The possibility of a new modified quarantine option follows the state's relaxation of the CDC'S 14-day quarantine. 

In November 2020, Missouri announced that students and staff who were in close contact would not have to quarantine if both individuals were wearing masks at the time of the exposure.

Right now students, teachers and staff are also not required to quarantine if they are in contact with a positive case if they are fully vaccinated.

Some parents think quarantine is necessary for their kid's protection, and they are worried this plan might put kids at risk. 

"I better be safe than sorry. I think it's a great plan, but for me I prefer my kid to stay home if he has been in contact with a positive case," Evan Goragui, a Columbia Public Schools parent said. 

CPS says it needs to consider all aspects, including input and guidance from the local health and medical professionals, before implementing anything new. 

"We are awaiting more information," CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said in a statement. "But the plan was included as a future option for school districts to consider during the DESE webinar last week."

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