This is the County Executive Report Sam gave at the County Council meeting on July 7, 2020. You are welcome to attend County Council meetings, which are currently conducted by webinar; they are open to the public and feature time for public comment. You can find information on the next meeting and dial-in information in the events section at www.stlouisco.com.
Thank you, Lisa, and good evening everyone,
Today, return-to-school guidelines were released to help our superintendents and other school leaders across St. Louis County prepare their plans so they can open safely beginning next month.
These guidelines come out as we see a rise in COVID-19 cases throughout most of the country including in Missouri.
In St. Louis County, we are seeing the largest increase in cases among younger people, ages 10 to 30.
In general, these two data groups – ages 10 to 19 and 20 to 29, are lower risk, with fewer underlying health conditions to exacerbate the COVID-19 virus. But what is troubling is that the children and teens who are getting this virus are living with adults who may not respond as well if they become infected.
As parents, we want our children to be active and enjoy the summer as much as possible. But we also know that any interaction with others outside the home poses a risk as long as this virus remains a part of our community.
With these new guidelines in hand, our schools can make sure they are doing all they can to keep students and staff safe. Based on these guidelines, our schools will release their plans the week of July 20 so parents can be prepared for a new school year under these extraordinary circumstances.
The guidance document, crafted by a working group of superintendents and public health officials, provides a list of things schools must do and a list of strongly suggested actions.
Schools must establish social distancing protocols for classrooms, cafeterias, gyms, playgrounds and other places where students gather.
Schools must implement a health screening for all students and staff before reporting to school.
If a staff member exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19, they must be sent home immediately. Students who have any of the symptoms must be isolated until a parent or guardian can come take them home.
We have a culture of working or going to school when sick and we need to change that culture during this pandemic. We must strive to keep sick people at home.
Schools must encourage frequent hand washing or the use of hand sanitizer upon entering a building, before eating, after eating, after restroom use, before any group activity and before boarding a bus.
Schools must not allow groups to congregate around water fountains and limit the number of people in a restroom.
Cleaning and disinfecting must be done based on CDC guidance and disposable gloves provided for the work.
Masks will be required for staff members when within six feet of anyone else. Schools must encourage students over the age of 9 to wear a face mask if there are circumstances that put them in close areas.
On Thursday, the day before the mask mandate went into effect on Friday in St. Louis County, our health department passed out 150,000 masks. Yesterday, all 20 branches of the St. Louis County Library will serve as distribution points for masks and, on the first day, passed out 40,000 masks.
We want to ensure that everyone has easy access to masks and we will continue looking at ways to get masks out into the community.
I want all our businesses to remain open and wearing masks will help us continue our gradual reopening. We must do all we can to keep the economy going while keeping employees and the public safe.
Wearing masks may be an inconvenience but the tradeoff for that inconvenience is protecting the health of others and helping our economy recover.
That’s all for now, Lisa. Thank you.