School board hears update on 2022-2023 COVID protocols
After a little over two years, it looks like a sense of normalcy will be returning to schools along with students this fall.
Marshalltown Community School District and Marshalltown High School Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford highlighted the district’s updated COVID-19 protocols at the regularly scheduled board of education meeting Monday night, and they bear a much closer resemblance to what they looked like pre-pandemic.
“Things look a lot different this year than they did two years ago, or even a year ago,” Tool-Crawford said.
While COVID is obviously still an issue, Tool-Crawford felt that with the various treatments and vaccinations available, families could feel confident as their students return to school in the 2022-2023 school year. While there are several variants, Tool-Crawford said they are often less severe, and she felt that was a definite positive.
Though things are looking up this year, Tool-Crawford did remind the board and anyone tuning into the meeting via livestream that Marshall County is still in the medium level for community spread as of last Thursday.
Because of that community classification, Tool-Crawford said that they still recommend that immunocompromised individuals wear a mask around large crowds, and everyone should stay up to date with their vaccinations and boosters. As for the school district itself, Tool-Crawford said they are more or less returning to regular illness guidelines — in her words, “If you’re sick, stay home.”
Students or staff with a fever of 100.4 or higher should stay home, and if they are exhibiting active illness symptoms, like vomiting or diarrhea, the same is true.
Tool-Crawford said symptoms should be monitored, and once the student or staff member has been fever free for 24 hours without the aid of fever reducing drugs and their symptoms subside, they can return to school.
Tool-Crawford also updated the board on the new exposure guidelines that were released by the CDC on Thursday. Previously, the instructions depended on whether or not an individual was vaccinated, but that has now changed.
With the new CDC guidelines, regardless of vaccination status, if an individual is exposed to COVID-19, they can carry on with their day-to-day tasks as long as they don’t have symptoms. The CDC recommends wearing a mask for up to 10 days if an exposure has occurred, but Tool-Crawford stressed that as a school district, the MCSD cannot require that.
The guidelines surrounding isolation remain the same, with the CDC recommending isolation for five days after a positive test or the onset of symptoms, and then mask wearing for days six through 10 when out in public.
“That’s based on also, returning to work if you have improvement — or returning to school or work — if you have improvement of your symptoms. If your symptoms are still, you know, if you’re still coughing a lot, certainly if you’re running a fever, then we would still ask that you stay home. But if you have improvement of symptoms, return to work day six,” Tool-Crawford said. “Masking is encouraged, but certainly, we can’t require that.”
Tool-Crawford said she also spoke with Marshall County Public Health Director Patricia Thompson, who agreed with Tool-Crawford’s recommendation that they continue following CDC guidance as they navigate the new school year.
“With our medium community level right now, things, we’re hoping, are gonna continue to improve and that we won’t have to adjust that, but as we all know with this right now, that could happen,” Tool-Crawford said.
The MCSD will also no longer be reporting COVID case numbers in the new school year. Tool-Crawford said though there are still cases, fewer people are testing, so she didn’t think it would be an accurate number if they were to continue that practice.
“I would just say, given where we were two years ago at the start of the school year, it’s really nice to be at a point where, I think, should feel like almost back to normal again, so that’s really good to see,” School Board President Sean Heitmann said.
In other business, the board:
• Approved updates to the 2022-2023 MHS Student Handbook.
• Heard a communications update from Communications Director Adam Sodders.
Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or