There has been much written about COVID 19 that I hesitate to add further to what may feel like an excessive volume of information. However, when the community spread positivity rate has escalated as rapidly as it has, I think it is important to communicate more about it.
The District has publicly reported a total of six positive COVID 19 cases since the start of the school year. Many individuals have been sent home due to signs of illness, were asked to isolate or quarantine due to direct exposure, or were referred for testing. However, we use the Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines to decide who is sent home and the length of time required to stay home before returning to school. As a District, we believe adhering to this guidance helps reduce the spread of COVID 19 in our schools and is in the best interest of all involved.
I recognize some families have been frustrated with being asked to isolate themselves or quarantine. I agree with you; it isn’t convenient or comfortable to do so. We have worked closely with Page County Public Health throughout this process. We are required to report students and staff who are COVID 19 positive or who have been directly exposed to them and follow the quarantine guidelines and procedures established by the Iowa Department of Public Health. At times like this, we need to remember that all involved are working together to create a safe and healthy school environment and reduce the spread of COVID 19.
I also know that it can be stressful to wait for test results to come back. Once a person is tested, they are to remain isolated until the results are known. Students are not allowed to attend school while they wait for their test results. Some have had to wait several days for test results, which can make waiting even harder. Shenandoah Medical Center has responded to this concern positively and now has options that allow for a more rapid response. I appreciate their responsive leadership to meet a community need. Test Iowa in Clarinda is another option to consider.
It is not always possible to maintain social distance in a school environment. In a school setting, correctly wearing a face-covering may make a difference in whether or not your child is sent home from school and required to quarantine. I would encourage you to talk with your child about the importance of wearing face coverings that fully cover their mouth and nose, maintaining social distance, and other preventative measures. Doing these things increases the likelihood that we can stay in school and continue to have school activities.
The following documents will help answer some of the questions you may have about how decisions are made related to quarantine and keeping schools open.