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Rolling with the flow by maintaining the status quo

CCA sticks with 14-day COVID quarantine policy

OXFORD– “I mean my recommendations, and like so many things this year, I don’t really ever walk away feeling like, yeah, that was 100 percent the right thing,” Superintendent Tim Kuehl told the board members during a Wednesday, Feb. 3, work session of the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District’s Board of Education.
Kuehl was talking about the district’s 14-day quarantine policy for positive COVID-19 cases and confirmed exposures.
“We’ve talked administratively and we feel we should stick with our current 14-day quarantine, and following CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines verses the governor’s guidelines.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds had announced rollbacks to various COVID-19 mitigation policies and practices, including revised quarantining guidelines. As with other proclamations it is possible for school districts and government entities to be more restrictive than the proclamations, but they are not able to be less stringent.
Kathy Campbell, the district’s director of health services, clarified some confusion on the state’s quarantine guidelines and pointed out, “If you tested negative on Day Five or Day Six you could be released from quarantine on Day Seven. Or, if you didn’t want to get tested, and you were asymptomatic, you could be released on Day 10 (under the governor’s guidelines). But as we’ve discussed in the past, that seemed to pertain more to businesses. There’s a lot of things that go along with that. You have to guarantee that person is wearing a mask 100 percent of the time. You have to socially distance them or actually socially isolate them if they’re eating in your facility. You have to guarantee they remain asymptomatic. So, it’s not just a cut-and-dried ‘you can come back after seven days if you’re negative.’” Campbell added the CDC and Johnson County Public Health both still consider the full 14-day quarantine to be the best option.
Kuehl noted there have been CCA students who were quarantined (due to close contact) and were asymptomatic, but then tested positive the 10th through the 13th day. “I don’t 100 percent know the right answer, but I know what Kathy (Campbell) feels, and what our administrators feel.” He added switching to the shorter quarantine times, “is a total nightmare. The whole shortened quarantines become almost unmanageable in the school situation.”
During the board’s Wednesday, Feb. 17, regular meeting Kuehl recommended the board approve continuing the 14-day quarantine policy again, noting the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Johnson County Public Health Department were continuing to recommend the 14-day period.
“We struggle with justifying changing what we’re doing when what we’re doing seems to be working for us,” he said.
Board member Nikki Knapp asked about a 5 percent student absence rate at Tiffin Elementary. “That is actually sick kids,” Campbell said. “Not COVID-positive, just sick kids.” Numbers were also up among the other elementary schools, she said, but noted “There’s something going around” before reiterating they’re not testing positive for COVID-19. Campbell said during a conference call with IDPH earlier in the day, an epidemiologist said they had only seen one flu case this season. “So, it’s not influenza either, it’s just another virus,” she said.
Knapp expressed her concerns about yet another surge in COVID-19 cases after seeing pictures taken at the state high school wrestling dual meet in Des Moines where it appeared, “maybe one-third of the people were wearing masks. It’s probably gonna be pretty crazy in the next 10 days after wrestling is done, and then you go into the other sports (state basketball tournaments) too.”
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa High School Athletic Association both state a mask mandate is in effect for the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, which will host the girls and boys state basketball tournaments the first and second week of March.
Board President Jennifer Mooney agreed with keeping the protocol in place. “We can’t guarantee what people are doing when they’re not in school, or even the whole time they’re in school. I know it’s restrictive but it’s working.”
The board approved the policy unanimously.