Guidance for K-12 Schools


All eligible teachers, staff, students and parents are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals 12 and older can register for vaccine at or by calling (417) 874-1211. Vaccination events can also be scheduled at schools by calling (417) 874-1211 or emailing [email protected].

Schools and SGCHD can partner together to support messaging and outreach about vaccination for members of school communities. School communication platforms can facilitate outreach to encourage vaccination of household members of school-age children as they become eligible. The Vaccination Toolkit with promotional and educational information can be shared with employees, parents and students.

The Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has also developed a vaccine toolkit with information regarding the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible children.


  • Testing for COVID-19 should be used in combination with other prevention strategies to reduce risk of transmission in schools. 
  • When schools implement testing combined with prevention strategies, they can detect new cases to prevent outbreaks, reduce the risk of further transmission, and protect students, teachers, and staff from COVID-19. 
  • Schools should offer testing onsite or referrals to diagnostic testing to any student, teacher, or staff member who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at school.

More information on testing can be found here.

Symptom_Comparison_Graphic_landscape (5)


  • The CDC and the American Association of Pediatrics recommend universal masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.  Universal masking will protect unvaccinated students, will help prevent breakthrough infections, and will reduce transmission.  It also allows school districts to utilize modified quarantine, which aids in keeping students in the classroom.  In addition, it may be potentially difficult to monitor and enforce mask policies for unvaccinated individuals.  An added benefit of universal masking is protection against other respiratory illnesses.
  • Other prevention strategies include: 
    • Encourage staff and students to stay home when sick.   
    • Remind children and staff to appropriately cover coughs and sneezes. 
    • Keep sick students and staff separate from well students and staff until sick students and staff can be sent home. 
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 
    • Clean frequently touched surfaces 
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Updated guidelines regarding these other factors can be found here: School-Specific Guidance and Toolkit for Cleaning and Disinfecting

Social distancing

  • School districts who choose to continue using universal masking to control disease spread should still maintain at least 3 feet distancing in classrooms and may utilize modified quarantine for close contacts.
  • School districts who choose to not require masking to control disease spread should prioritize maintaining as much physical distancing as possible, maintaining a minimum of 3 feet distancing, with a goal of 6 feet.


  • Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, countertops, tables) with the cleaners typically used. Use all cleaning products according to the directions on the label. 
    • Clean dirty surfaces with soap and water OR bottled ready-to-use cleaner first. Products that clean well include dish soap, Formula 409, OxiClean, and Windex. 
    • After cleaning, disinfect surfaces to kill the virus and allow to dry completely. For hard surfaces use bottled disinfectants like Clorox Cleaner with Bleach, Lysol, or mix your own (1/3 c regular bleach to 1 gal water). For porous surfaces,  use a disinfectant appropriate for material (see label). When doing laundry,  wash according to label using warmest setting possible and allow to dry completely in a clothes dryer. 
  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by staff before each use.   

Planning, looking ahead 

  • Review, update, and implement Emergency Operations Plan (EOPS). 
  • Review usual absenteeism patterns at your school among both students and staff. 
  • Alert your local public health department about large increases in student/staff absenteeism, particularly if absences appear due to respiratory illnesses.
  • Create communications plans for sharing verified information with staff, students and their families.   
  • Share authoritative resources with staff and families.  
  • Support flexible attendance and sick leave policies for students and staff.   
  • Identify strategies and technologies to continue educating students if schools close.  
  • Plan for holiday travel. Review updated CDC information for travelers, including FAQ for travelers, and consult with state and local health officials. Health officials may use CDC’s Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposure in Travel-associated or Community Settings to make recommendations. Individuals returning from travel to areas with community spread of COVID-19 must follow guidance they have received from health officials.  

What to do if you have a confirmed case 

  • Follow modified quarantine guidelines where applicable.
  • Contact your local public health department. Childcare and school administrators should work in close collaboration and coordination with local health officials to make dismissal and large event cancellation decisions.  
  • Implement a plan to continue educating students through virtual learning, if possible. 
  • If schools are dismissed, schools can consider the following steps: 
    • Temporarily cancel extracurricular group activities and large events. 
    • Discourage students and staff from gathering or socializing anywhere. 
    • Ensure continuity of education. 
    • Ensure continuity of meal programs. 
  • Seek guidance to determine when students and staff should return to schools.  

For more information 

CDC’s Guidance for Schools and Childcare

CDC’s Checklist for Teachers and Parents