New Quarantine Guidance / Mask Wearing
On Tuesday, September 29th, Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) released new quarantine guidance for COVID-19. This change impacts situations where both the person positive for COVID-19 and those in close contact with them (less than six feet for greater than 15 minutes) were wearing masks. This change differs from current CDC guidance, which states individuals in close contact with someone with COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days following the exposure, regardless of whether masks were worn.
After careful consideration, Ames CSD will continue to contact trace students and staff who have COVID-19, notifying parents when their child has been in close contact with them, whether they were wearing masks or not. Parents will receive both CDC and IDPH guidance and can choose whether to self-quarantine their child for the CDC recommended 14-day period following exposure. Names of close contacts will be shared with Story County Public Health who will continue to contact those families.
Iowa’s guidance change does not include situations when a close contact with COVID-19 occurs where masks are not worn. At times within the school setting students may be in close contact for greater than 15 minutes without masks, including lunch and certain activities like athletics. In these cases, Ames CSD asks students to stay home for a 14-day self-quarantine period. Additionally, a 14-day self-quarantine will be recommended for exposures to COVID-19 occurring within the home or other environments outside of school where masks are not in use.
In addition to quarantine guidance, IDPH also clarified mask guidelines, which is now consistent with CDC mask recommendations. According to this, face masks should be two or more layers of washable fabric, completely cover the nose and mouth, fit snugly over the nose and mouth, and under the chin.
The CDC considers neck gaiters, bandanas, or other face coverings that do not fit snugly under the chin to have unknown effectiveness in providing protection. Due to this, neck gaiters and bandanas are no longer acceptable face coverings at school. Masks must fit snugly under the chin to be acceptable. This will begin to be implemented on Monday, October 5. Face shields will continue to be allowed to be worn on top of a mask as an additional precaution. CDC guidance on how to select, wear, and care for masks is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html