The increase in positive COVID cases and exposure among staff and students has prompted the Jefferson City Public Schools (JCPS) to transition to its yellow protocol next week, which will require masks. JCPS also cites the overall increase in Cole County.
The district will not hold classes on Monday, which is MLK Jr. Day. The changes will take effect on Tuesday.
Masks will be required indoors for all staff and students when social distance of three feet cannot be maintained. Under the new policy, school gatherings and assemblies will only be allowed if social distance can be maintained.
The district says the new changes will remain in effect until further notice.
The district has also addressed a criticism we’ve heard from a few parents, who say JCPS’ COVID tracker doesn’t provide an accurate number. The district says the tracker only tracks cases within the school environment, and confirms there is a significant discrepancy between official tracker numbers and actual absences from personal exposure or positive cases that don’t impact the school environment. JCPS says this is due to the number of people who are staying home when ill and not bringing COVID into the school environment.
The district’s COVID tracker says there are currently 78 active student cases, along with 44 active staff cases.
The district also says they’ve seen an uptick in staff absences this week, including those that are directly COVID-related. Those include positive cases or close contacts.
The district says it’s canceled all district professional development for January to allow teachers to remain in the classroom.
JCPS says it’s not alone in challenges they’re facing due to the Omicron variant. They continue to urge teachers, staff and students to stay home when they’re sick, to wear a mask, wash hands frequently and get vaccinated.
Cole County health officials say they’ve seen an increase of 192 cases in the past day, across the county.
The increasing COVID cases in the county have also impacted Helias Interparish High School, which has canceled classes for Tuesday to give crews time to deep-clean their building.