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The Moniteau County R-1 School District Board of Education met Nov. 18 to discuss updates on the district's ongoing bond issue projects and what students can expect when returning in December.

Students at California Middle School and California High School will return to amended mask requirements, following updated coronavirus guidance from Gov. Mike Parson and statewide public health entities earlier this month.

On Nov. 12, Gov. Mike Parson, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conducted a press conference laying out some alternative guidelines about how districts may choose to contact trace and quarantine students who would be considered close contacts. After a lengthy discussion, the board voted to adopt a mask mandate for sixth through twelfth grades, in combination with social distancing rules. The new guidelines are supported by the Moniteau County Health Center.

Under the new mandate, students can practice social distancing without masks in classrooms where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance between each other and otherwise should properly wear masks in rooms where social distancing is not possible. Students will not be forced to quarantine if both a student who tests positive for COVID-19 and one previously classified as a close contact are both properly wearing masks in such settings.

The board also discussed fan expectations for upcoming school events. The decision was made to limit visiting fans to two tickets per player and to cap gym capacity at CHS and CMS to 50 percent. That would allow approximately 700 fans in the high school gym and 200 at the middle school. Rows of bleachers will be blocked off to ensure appropriate social distancing in all seating sections. Visiting fans will sit behind the visitor's bench and home fans will sit in the west bleachers with students in their normal spot. "Masks in motion" will be encouraged, meaning wearing a mask when entering the building and until spectators get to their seats, or while traversing the building to go to the restroom or concession stand. Masks will be available at the gate for anyone who would like one. The board also strongly encourages sitting in family pods and social distancing between pods. The district will try to stream games and events when personnel are available to do so in an effort to allow fans who are uncomfortable with attending the events to still be able to enjoy them.

At the time of the meeting, there were 52 close contacts and eight positive COVID-19 cases in the district. Those numbers were projected to be at 38 and four, respectively, by Monday of this week, assuming there are no new cases, Superintendent Dwight Sanders said.

"We are in a much better spot today and I am excited to bring everyone back for face-to-face instruction on Thursday, Dec. 3," Sanders said.

Sanders shared an update on the progress being made for the bond issue and guaranteed performance contract progress. Right now, work is primarily focused on the new addition at the elementary and middle school campus. The lower level floor concrete is now complete. The mason crew had to temporarily shut down due to a coronavirus outbreak, but it is back on site and moving along well. Since the last regular board meeting, the district has received a credit in the amount of $906.26 due to an order change. The contractor decided to go with a shorter steel beam, meaning no demolition work will have to be done to the middle school kitchen. Work for the guaranteed performance contract is complete, minus a few loose ends.

Information was also shared with the board about school board candidate filing. Brandon Dunham and Allison Kruger are the members whose terms will be expiring in April. Sanders said he believes both plan on filing again in April for a second 3-year term.

The Moniteau County R-1 School District Board of Education's next regular meeting will be Dec. 16.

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