LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. — The Winfield R-IV School District is the first in the St. Louis area to loosen COVID-19 protocols for its students after Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled that health orders such as quarantines violate the Missouri Constitution’s separation of powers clause.
The judge ordered that all existing health orders issued by local health authorities are “null and void.”
During Monday night’s school board meeting, district leaders approved modifying their close contact protocol to align with the court ruling. The district will no longer require students or staff to quarantine if they do not have symptoms and were a close contact with someone who tested positive to COVID-19.
“Once we saw that court ruling come out last week, we were very motivated to take action,” said Winfield R-IV School District Superintendent Daniel Williams. “Following judge Green’s decision last week, we met Monday night and really recognized that the original guidance from DESE and DHSS were not valid at this point.”
Superintendent Williams said students who have symptoms will still have to quarantine unless they test negative for the virus, or have a note from a healthcare professional.
“We’ve been extremely blessed here in Winfield that our numbers have stayed extremely low,” the superintendent said.
Among the more than 1500 students across the district’s four schools, there are currently seven students and two staff members that have tested positive for COVID-19. Six students are considered close contacts, according to the district’s data released this week.
“The data that really helped drive our decision is that the large percentage of students who we were quarantining from school and restricting their ability to have in-person instruction where we had such a very low percentage of student and staff testing positive,” Superintendent Williams said.
Tom Ellersieck, a grandparent of four students in the district said some of his grandchildren had to be quarantined in the past.
“I’m an ex-teacher and I think they need to be in school and they need to be safe in school,” he said.
Superintendent Williams said the community overall has welcomed this change of loosened protocols but will continue to keep an eye out on cases.
“In many communities throughout the country, there have been very different opinions on how to approach mitigating measures on covid, and I think at this juncture our Board of Education is certainly representing their constituents well.”
FOX 2’s Zara Barker asked Williams if there was some concern due to the Omicron variant.
“I think over the last 18 months there is concern with everything that is mentioned, I think right now it is a really wait and see, we really rely upon the officials that are in a position to give schools guidance,” he said.
View the letter district officials sent to parents below: