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District issues COVID-19 quarantine changes

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Anson Elementary fourth grade students listen during class on the first day of school on Sept. 8. Even though new quarantine recommendations are still in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, masks and shields will remain.

The Marshalltown Community School District is implementing some changes to COVID-19 quarantine recommendations after Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a change in quarantine guidelines on Tuesday.

It is no longer recommended by the state that people outside of healthcare and residential settings quarantine for potential exposure, as long as the person infected with COVID-19 and the person who is exposed are wearing face masks.

The announcement came as a surprise to MCSD Superintendent Theron Schutte. He said Reynolds’ office and the Iowa Department of Public Health have once again developed their own guidance which is not consistent with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines and recommendations. The CDC recommends people quarantine after being exposed.

“But I also believe that the Marshalltown CSD is going up and beyond with our safety protocol efforts to best ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, their families, staff and the Marshalltown community,” Schutte said. “The potential of families having to repeatedly quarantine throughout the school year for potential exposure purposes is daunting — especially for working parents. I believe that we will be able to continue to keep our students and employees safe at school while continuing to notify our parents of the potential for exposure in these situations. It will be extremely important for our students, parents and staff to self monitor their health and to take immediate actions and precautions when deemed necessary. We need to continue to be proactive and diligent in this regard.”

The district released a statement on Wednesday explaining the new recommendations that are in place. Anyone who has had close contact — within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive person for at least 15 minutes — with a COVID-19-positive household member are required to quarantine for 14 days. People who actually have COVID-19 are required to isolate for 10 days.

The MCSD statement included four scenarios in which people have different degrees of wearing masks. In all scenarios, close contact is established and the person with COVID-19 needs to isolate:

• If everyone wears a face masks and there is a person with COVID-19, close contacts should monitor themselves for symptoms, which include a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.

• If the COVID-19 positive person is not masked, but the exposed people are, they should quarantine.

• If the person with COVID-19 is wearing a mask but not all of the exposed people, the ones wearing masks should self-monitor while those who did not wear masks should quarantine.

• If no one is masked, everyone needs to be quarantined.

Schutte said the district will continue notifying families of exposure and will maintain open lines of communication.

“Parents always have the decision-making ability to keep their children home if they feel that is in their child’s best health interest,” he said. “My hope is that they continue to trust that we are doing everything possible to monitor and ensure their children’s health, safety and well-being while at school.”

Face masks are still required on students and staff. Face and desk shields are also provided to help reduce the risk of potential spread of COVID-19. Social distancing is still being enforced and visitors to buildings are still restricted.

“I am confident and optimistic that our policies, practices and protocols that have been carefully designed and implemented will continue to provide our students’ and staff with a high degree of safety while returning to school and work,” Schutte said. “We will continue to carefully monitor this daily and if necessary we will adjust in order to protect our students, staff and community.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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