Here's how SPS, Springfield colleges plan to mitigate COVID-19 heading into fall semester

At the State of the University address Monday, MSU President Clif Smart announced a new scholarship to cover tuition and fees for incoming Missouri undergraduates who qualify for a federal Pell grant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have relaxed COVID-19 guidelines, including dropping recommendations that those not up-to-date on their vaccines quarantine if they come in contact with an infected person.

While some area schools will be shifting their policies, others have decided not to.

Springfield Public Schools reviews and updates their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity Plan every six months or as needed, according to Stephen Hall, chief communications officer for SPS. Guidance for the 2022-23 school year was updated in July 2022, and includes previous advice that someone who exposed to COVID-19 and is not up-to-date on their vaccination quarantine for five days.

The school year begins Aug. 22 for students at SPS.

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Missouri State University, Drury University, Ozarks Technical Community College and Evangel University will all be following CDC's updated guidelines.

MSU, Drury and OTC also begin classes on Aug. 22. Evangel's first day of class is Aug. 24.

"COVID-19 continues to circulate globally, however, with so many tools available to us for reducing COVID-19 severity, there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic," the CDC said in a press release on Thursday.

What has changed in the CDC guidelines?

The CDC now recommends that symptomatic or infected people isolate for five days and wear a mask if they have to be around others.

Instead of quarantining after an exposure, the guidelines suggest that people mask for 10 days after the exposure, and test for COVID-19 infection at day 5.

Even if someone tests negative on day 5, they should continue to wear the mask. If someone tests positive, the CDC recommends that they isolate immediately, for at least five days.

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"If after five days you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and your symptoms are improving, or you never had symptoms, you may end isolation after day 5," the updated guidelines stated, adding that regardless of when isolation ends, people should avoid contact with those who are most likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

If someone has had difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, or was hospitalized due to COVID-19, they should isolate through day 10.

The CDC also recommends that those with severe illness or who have weakened immune systems consult a doctor before ending isolation.

Susan Szuch is the health and public policy reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter @szuchsm. Story idea? Email her at

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: MSU, Drury among schools to update COVID-19 guidance