On September 28, the Iowa Department of Public Health issued new guidelines regarding the quarantine process for Iowans that have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case. Up until one week ago, those that were a direct contact to a positive case were required to quarantine for the full 14-day timeframe beginning on the last date of known exposure.
With the updated quarantine guidelines that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has chosen to back, the new quarantine guidelines state if facemasks are worn and worn properly by both individuals at the time of contact, the contact person will not have to follow the 14-day quarantine. Reynolds stated in her press conference on September 29 she was receiving feedback from superintendents in school districts expressing frustration over the quarantine process as several students were being required to quarantine with very low positive case numbers.
Wayne Community High School had confirmed three positive cases within their junior/senior high building in early September that sent a number of students home due to the contact tracing and quarantine process. A facemask policy was mandated for all students, staff and visitors to the buildings in hopes to help maintain and minimize the spread throughout the buildings within the district.
Previously the plan was to lift the required facemask policy within the school district once the positivity rate fell below six percent for five consecutive days.
“With the new guidelines, it doesn’t make sense to do that,” said Wayne Community School Superintendent Mike Still. “We are going to continue to require facemasks in grades 7-12. In the elementary building right now we are able to keep the kids in their classes together and we haven’t had a case down there. Right now we are going to allow facemasks to be removed while in the classroom but they have to wear them on buses, when they enter the school building and when they restroom, things like that.”
“We have worked with public health to develop lists with our seating charts and lists of kids and knowing who was six feet apart or together for longer than 15 minutes, but as far as quarantine, that was their job to determine which students or staff would be quarantined,” Still added. “That will continue to be the case but all indications from public health are if both parties are wearing the masks appropriately they will not be required to quarantine.”
Sporting events could create issues where a quarantine process is still necessary, but as of now the hopes are to allow kids to remain in the classroom as safely as possible, for as long as possible.
This newest guidance is subject to change dependent on a positive case within the buildings. It is reminded facemasks must be worn properly by both individuals, over the mouth and nose, to avoid the 14-quarantine.
Breaks will be given from wearing face coverings when possible and facemasks will not be required when eating breakfast and lunch. Social distancing is recommended when masks are not being worn.
Wayne will allow face coverings to include masks, gaiters and faceshields, however if a faceshield is worn in place of a mask, there will be no guarantee of avoiding quarantine.