Sep. 1—Correction: This story has been updated to reflect accurate numbers. Numbers previously reported for the Carthage School District were in error.
After the first full week back to school, five area districts were reporting more than 70 students and staff with active COVID-19 cases, and nearly 300 students and staff in quarantine after having come in close contact with them.
Joplin, Carthage, Webb City, Carl Junction and Neosho school districts provided the latest COVID-19 data available over the first week of the 2021-22 school year.
Joplin Superintendent Melinda Moss said in an email to the Globe that the district has seen "an accelerating increase" in COVID-19 numbers throughout the first week of the fall semester.
The Joplin School District reported a total of 135 students and two staff members under quarantine with 17 active COVID-19 cases among students and six active cases among staff, as of Friday. There are 521 fully vaccinated staff and 60 substitutes enrolled in the district's vaccine incentive pool, according to Moss.
"This serves as a good reminder that a fully vaccinated status may not only help protect you from the serious effects of COVID-19 but also prevent a quarantined status," Moss said in the email.
The Carthage School District reported a total of 47 students and no staff under quarantine with 10 active COVID-19 cases among students and 1 active case among staff, as of Friday.
Local health departments have the authority to determine isolation dates, not the school districts, according to Mark Baker, Carthage school superintendent.
"We determine quarantine dates associated with contact tracing at school or school activities," Baker said in an email to the Globe. "We issue the same quarantine days for all students deemed in close contact depending if masks were worn correctly and consistently, if anyone is vaccinated, and how long potential close contact occurred."
Baker added that students and staff have been responding well to the district's COVID-19 back-to-school safety plan that encourages masks.
"Kids and staff continue to practice safety protocol as part of our Tigers Together Back-to-School Plan," he said. "I am not aware of any substantial issues or conflicts regarding the safety protocols in place."
The Neosho School District reported a total of 48 students and seven staff in quarantine with 17 active COVID-19 cases among students and three among staff, as of Tuesday, Aug. 31.
"We have around 1% of (total enrolled) students in quarantine, and that's not including the fact that I used a denominator of 3,800 seated students from last year, and we haven't updated that yet, so I bet we're closer to 4,100 seated students this year," said Jim Cummins, Neosho school superintendent.
"It's a lot of business as usual, but I do see several students who choose to wear masks," Cummins said. "I see some of our staff wearing masks. It has worked out from the standpoint of that we were able to give people the choice. I think from that standpoint, it's going pretty well."
Cummins said one of the issues they're finding out is that if a parent in a household tests positive for COVID-19, their child will most likely contract it as well. He said they are relying on communication from parents or guardians to notify the school in such cases.
"One of the things we're going to have to take a look at is if we have a parent contact or a parent positive, how are we helping those folks understand they need to stay home for a day or how to make sure the students don't become positive as well," he said. "If they come to school asymptomatic and then become positive, then we have more close contacts."
Superintendent Anthony Rossetti said that the first week back for the Webb City School District went well and its overall COVID-19 numbers look good.
"Our students have been doing a great job this year," he said in an email to the Globe.
The district had 33 students and one staff member in quarantine with a total of 14 active COVID-19 cases among students and one among staff, as of Friday.
The Carl Junction School District had a total of 26 students and no staff in quarantine with two active COVID-19 cases among students and none among staff, as of Tuesday, according to school officials.
"The first week of school went well in regard to COVID-19 and all other aspects," David Pyle, assistant superintendent, said in an email to the Globe.
"COVID mitigation is not new to our students," Pyle said in a statement. "Carl Junction students, along with our families and staff, conscientiously worked to keep students and staff safe last year, and they continue to do so this year."