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This article is being offered free to all readers because it includes information important to the health and safety of our community.

A handful of positive COVID-19 cases among students and teachers in the Moniteau County R-1 School District has resulted in more than 100 individuals designated as close contacts and asked to quarantine.

Darrell Hendrickson, environmental specialist with the Moniteau County Health Center, said much of his work over the past few days has been with the California school district.

As of Monday, there were about five active cases among students and staff at the school district, Hendrickson said.

Per Health Center and school district procedures, all positive cases and those deemed close contacts — those who have been within 6 feet of a positive case for more than 15 minutes on any given day — are required to quarantine.

"The school district was able to provide us with a list of names of people who they had verified through course schedules, seating charts, video on the buses, of who was sitting around these individuals during the day, so they could give us a listing of the individuals who would be considered close contacts," Hendrickson said.

The Health Center obtained the list Sunday afternoon and had contacted the majority of individuals by Sunday evening, he said. A few were contacted early Monday but, as of now, should all be quarantining, he said.

The county Health Center calls and emails individuals who are asked to self-quarantine when contact tracing, and Hendrickson said the school district serves as a backstop in this case to make sure students who haven't been contacted successfully are sent home if they show up to school.

"We keep stressing, like always, the 6-foot distance, wearing masks, the standard drill that I always talk about, but what became readily apparent is that social distancing at schools is difficult and we just need to keep driving home that we need to maintain that proper distance. Otherwise, you get tagged with a quarantine order," Hendrickson said.

Moniteau County has reported 321 coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic, and new cases added in the past week have placed the county in "red zone" status.

Moniteau County, along with 51 other Missouri counties, is currently classified as a "red zone," according to a White House Coronavirus Task Force report from Sept. 20. A "red zone" categorization means a county has reported both new cases at or above 101 per 100,000 members of the population and a lab positivity result at or above 10.1 percent during the past week.

As of Tuesday evening, Moniteau County was reporting 42 active COVID-19 cases. Four people in the county have died from COVID-19, and 275 have recovered.

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