Now that many St. Louis area schools are returning back to in-person instruction (or a combination in-person and virtual education), there are many more concerns about school quarantine protocols.
This Fall, many private and charter schools tested the waters for St. Louis City / County, and an early look at their results have raised a number of questions.
Read below to learn about some of the unique issues divorced families – especially those with multiple school aged children – may face.
Quarantining Students By Grade “Pods”
Per St. Louis City and County guidelines, many schools are encouraged to keep students – especially those in elementary and middle school – contained to their classroom “pods.”
This means limited social mixing, staggered breaks, and lunch at your desk. Instead of students switching classrooms for classes like art or other special instruction, teachers will rotate between classrooms.
In the event that a student in one classroom contracts COVID and exposes a classroom, the school will send that particular classroom home to quarantine for 10 school days, or until students and staff all test negative.
However, what if the student is quarantining in a home with other students?
Families With Multiple Students
While this proposed solution seems like a good solution to minimize the need for shutting down entire schools, it doesn’t account for the students that live in a home with multiple other students.
For example, if Sally is in 3rd grade and her classroom was exposed – she will be asked to quarantine at home for 10 days. However, her brother in 6th grade and her sister in 2nd grade are still allowed to attend school.
As long as all students remain asymptomatic, this is the policy. Schools have been encouraging families to keep the quarantined child in their own space, if possible.
The St. Louis Health Department is updating their recommendations as we learn more information and as the school year progresses.
So far, the St. Louis City and County Schools haven’t had major shutdowns due to this issue.
Students With A Teacher As A Parent
Another issue that remains largely unaddressed is the policy of what happens when students and teachers live in the same household.
Depending on if the parent teaches in the same classroom as the student, it is possible the parent/teacher may be on quarantine while their children attending the same school are not.
So far, the only guideline given is that the person quarantining must remain at the same address for 10-14 days and be asymptomatic before returning to school.
Similar to the case with multiple children, it seems to go against what we know about quarantining effectiveness by allowing members of your home to leave while someone in your family is quarantined.
However, it is currently the best practice according to St. Louis City & County health departments (as of October 10, 2020).
Quarantining With One Or Multiple Parents
One of the more complicated factors that is still being discussed by the Health Department is when a child has to quarantine but splits their time between two different parents.
Currently, the health department recommends that the student who is quarantining remain at the same address the entire time they are under quarantine.
However, depending on the particular case (if they child is symptomatic, duration of exposure and if they test negative or positive), you may be able to resume your normal custody schedule.
We recommend discussing this with your school administrators, as they are the ones coordinating directly with the health department on their latest recommendations.
It is likely though that you would have to rearrange your custody schedule around this time to whichever parent is able to take them for two weeks or has less exposure at their job.
Call Marler Law Partners For Advice on Revising Your Custody Arrangement
Having difficulty navigating custody during COVID-19 or custody issues in general?
Contact your friends at Marler Law Partners. We have a growing family law team ready to serve you.