MONROE CITY, Mo. | The Monroe County Health Department on Thursday ordered an undetermined number of students at Monroe City High School be quarantined for 14 days.
Health Department director Paula Delaney said that the students were in close contact with a student who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
School started in the Monroe City R-1 District on Monday, with students attending in-person classes for the first time since March.
“The school district has been very cooperative in communicating with the Health Department,” Delaney said. “They are doing everything possible to prevent the spread of the virus.”
The School District announced Wednesday on its Facebook page that high school students – grades 9 through 12 – would attend virtual classes on Thursday and Friday in what school officials called a “targeted” closure of the high school.
“The High School Building will be closed Thursday (8/27) and Friday (8/28) for enhanced cleaning/training measures,” the district announced.
Tony DeGrave, first-year Monroe Coty superintendent, said on Thursday that school leaders were executing contingency plans that were developed over the summer much quicker than they anticipated.
“Our planning is coming into application now and to say we have it all covered would be a short-coming,” he said. “We are monitoring this process hour-by-hour.”
Monroe City High School is executing a plan for what it calls a hybrid schedule for students starting on Monday.
Under the hybrid schedule, students are divided into two groups – Group A, last names beginning with A through L, and Group B, last names beginning M through Z.
The groups will alternate attending school in person versus E-learning. Group A will attend school on Mondays and Thursdays, while E-learning on Tuesdays and Fridays, when Group B attends in-person classes, On Wednesday, all students will participate in E-learning.
DeGrave said the hybrid schedule gives the school district the best opportunity to prevent crowding of classrooms and hallways, allowing for social distancing.
The school district said on Tuesday that it started contact tracing when it was learned that a high school student had tested positive for COVID-19.
“The potential exposure occurred during our FFA Fall Trap Shoot team meeting on Thursday, Aug. 20,” the district posted on Facebook. “The positive case and all of the close contacts (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) were isolated to one specific area of the building. As soon as the District was notified of the potential exposure to a positive case, we collected contact tracing information from our employees and asked individuals who were primary contacts to self-quarantine until they are contacted by local health officials.”
As is the case with many rural Missouri counties, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in both Ralls and Monroe counties.
According to the daily Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard that's maintained by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Ralls and Monroe counties are among the 10 counties in the state with the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases over the last seven days.
The state reported on Thursday that Monroe County with 62 cases, had a 32% increase in positive COVID-19 tests over the last seven days.
Ralls County, meanwhile, reported a 28% increase, moving from 74 cases to 95 cases in seven days.
Tanya Taylor, director of the Ralls County Health Department, said on Thursday that the increase in COVID-19 positive cases was spread around the county. There were no case clusters, she said.
“I think that people are just letting their guards down,” Taylor said of the increase in positive cases.