Decorah Community School District is committed to providing transparent, accurate data regarding cases of isolation and/or quarantining related to COVID-19 while maintaining the confidentiality of students and staff. On September 18, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Education released guidance to school districts and local public health agencies detailing communication of COVID-19 related data. You can read the Iowa Department of Public Health guidance here.
Summary Quarantine/Isolation and Positive COVID-19 Data Year-to-Date:
Of approximately 290 Staff – 26 Isolated/Quarantined for at least one day – Six (6) positive COVID-19 – Less than six (6) recovered
Of approximately 1575 On-site students – 166 Isolated/Quarantined for at least one day – Less than six (6) positive COVID-19 – Less than six (6) recovered
On Tuesday, September 29, 2020, the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Department of Public Health released new guidance regarding quarantining when students or staff are found to be a close contact (within six feet for 15 minutes) of an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. This new guidance is addressed in an updated Reopening Schools and Public Health Frequently Asked Questions from the Iowa Department of Education.
The Iowa Department of Education guidance states:
New (9-29-20)If students and staff are wearing face coverings and someone tests positive for COVID-19, do all close contacts need to quarantine, or is this need mitigated by wearing face coverings?
If both the COVID-19 infected person and the other person(s) in contact with them—even within six feet for 15 minutes—are wearing face coverings, the persons in contact do not need to quarantine. The COVID-19 infected person always needs to isolate in accordance with public health guidelines. Please see the IDPH guidance released on this topic.
Below is the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidance released on this topic. A printable PDF is available here.
It is critical to note that the Iowa Department of Public Health has informed county departments of public health and school districts that only Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended face coverings appropriately worn by both parties–the COVID-19 positive individual and the identified close contact–eliminate the quarantine requirement.
This means gaiters and face shields are not sufficient face covering options in eliminating the need to quarantine during a contact tracing investigation. The CDC provides the following regarding how to select a face covering.
The full CDC How to Select a Face Covering guidance referenced by the Iowa Department of Public Health can be found here.
Decorah Community School District will continue to work closely with Winneshiek County Public Health to conduct contact tracing in alignment with guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Education. Superintendent Mark Lane noted, “We have appreciated the collaborative approach taken by a majority of our staff, students, and families. This collaborative approach promotes the continued health and safety of our students, families, and staff, and our ability to provide on-site learning and extracurricular activities.”