Gasconade R-2 announces two COVID-19 cases, 20 more in quarantine

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 9/18/20

With just three weeks into the school year, Gasconade County R-2 officials announced Sept. 10 that two positive COVID-19 cases and an exposure have resulted in 20 more quarantine cases.

That …

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Gasconade R-2 announces two COVID-19 cases, 20 more in quarantine

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With just three weeks into the school year, Gasconade County R-2 officials announced Sept. 10 that two positive COVID-19 cases and an exposure have resulted in 20 more quarantine cases.

That number continues to grow.

On Monday afternoon, district officials sent a text message to parents and guardians of R-2 students informing them of a middle school staff member who had been notified of an exposure “outside the school environment” and had been asked to quarantine. The staff member has not shown any positive symptoms, according to the message.

And, on Tuesday afternoon, an Owensville Middle School student and staff member were both asked to self-quarantine by the health department for an exposure outside of the school.

“It is unrelated to the previous incident and unrelated to the school,” Garner said Tuesday afternoon. “When you have a positive case, quarantine is based on close proximity to the student. This has nothing to do with the school, they were asked to quarantine by the health department.”

All students and staff who may have been in proximity to the latest case have already been contacted by the health department. No further action is needed.

Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner said the district now has various cases and students in quarantine that each know their return date, though he could not readily provide the exact numbers.

“Early last week, there was a positive case at the high school and 13 were quarantined,” Garner said. Later in the week, there was a positive case at the middle school, and seven additional students were quarantined based on that case. There are no positive cases at the elementary school.”

In their Sept. 10 press release, the district said one elementary school student was asked to quarantine due to exposure but had not tested positive for the virus. The Gasconade County Health Department has already contacted anyone who may have been exposed to the virus by the positive district cases. Garner said those who were asked to quarantine were in direct contact with the two positive cases.

“Students who were in quarantine before are still under quarantine,” Garner said. “We have students with return dates from Sept. 18 through the 23rd. A couple came back today (Monday).”

As of Monday afternoon, Garner said he is “Working on what is happening now.” The other students know their return dates and are working with the health department to move forward.

“We will release the data at Monday’s (Sept. 21) school board meeting,” Garner said. “That will be from Aug. 24 through Monday — over a month’s worth of data — but we won’t compile it until Monday.

“Currently, we have had two positive cases, and when you are talking about 1,800 students, that is minimal,” Garner said. The district is still utilizing their re-entry plan that was announced in August.

“It’s not perfect, but it is working the way we expected it to,” Garner said.

The quarantines happened just in time for the new United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) free meal plan that applies to all schools through Dec. 31. The district began giving every in-seat student a free meal under the program on Friday, and e-learners, including those quarantined, began pickup on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

“Meal pickups are going good,” Garner said. “Participation has increased in every building and has been able to accommodate processing kids through the line, keeping physical distance and getting them through the lines as quickly as possible.”

The district plans to continue the program as long as it is available. They should know prior to the Dec. 31 deadline if the program will be extended into 2021.

“We will make a determination at that time,” Garner said about whether the district plans to extend the program. “Everyday we are trying to ensure that everyone is safe and we keep on learning. Those are positive sights that haven’t been seen in a while.”

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