New mask mandate to go into effect after winter break


Screenshot of Board meeting from Youtube

Board of Education members met of 12/9 to discuss COVID-19 updates in schools.

The Mehlville School District Board of Education has ruled that masks will be recommended in schools starting after winter break.

The Board’s ruling also states that contact tracing and quarantine from close contact will cease.

“If we get a positive case at this point, we have to do contact tracing here and that has been eliminated,” assistant principal Brian Brennan said. “We won’t be doing any contact tracing, and we will notify, if we get a positive case, families that there has been a positive case in that class and to ask them to monitor their student.”

Even though new guidelines for wearing masks have been placed and contact tracing will cease, students who test positive for COVID-19 will still be required to quarantine. Those students, though, will be the only students who would be required to quarantine. If the number of positive cases exceeds a certain amount, however, students and staff will revert back to a required mask policy. 

“The district has set the threshold at 1 percent, which could always change, but 1 percent of the entire population of the building. When you take all the students, teachers, custodial staff and cafeteria staff, we’re right around about 1900,” Brennan said. “If we end up with a period where we have 19 people test positive, then we are going to have to return to wearing masks for a 10-day period.”

If the number of positive cases in the building does exceed 1 percent, after the 10-day period of required mask wearing, the school will determine if the amount of positive cases is still above 1 percent. If so, masks will continue to be required and if not, the school will revert back to masks being recommended. 

“If we look at the numbers we had in this building for the last week,” Brenann said, “we would be almost double, if not triple, of what we would have to have. If people don’t do what they’re supposed to or are not careful with things, I think there’s a possibility that at some point in time we’ll cross that 1 percent threshold.”

Based on the information that OHS has now, vaccines are not required for students and staff. That might change in the future, but Brennan said that is not his decision. 

“I don’t think it’ll ever be required,” Brennan said, “not like the other vaccinations.”

The ruling for the lawsuit in Cole County concerning mask policies stated that health departments cannot pose a mask-mandate for the community, but an elected entity like the district’s Board of Education does have that power. 

Masks will only be recommended if OHS stays below the 1 percent threshold, but even without masks, students and staff can still prevent the spread of germs by washing their hands frequently and being respectful of other’s personal space.