New COVID guidelines impact MCSD

Staff report

     On Friday, Oct. 2, Monticello Schools Superintendent Brian Jaeger sent out an all-school e-mail informing parents that a high school student tested positive for COVID-19.

     The date of the exposure was Sept. 28.

     “During the school day, almost every student who was in close proximity was wearing a mask; therefore, very few student were affected,” noted Jaeger of the new guidelines released earlier in the week by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

     The student did play with the JV football team on Monday, Sept. 28.

     “After consulting with Jones County Public Health, they decided the athletes on the JV football team will need to quarantine,” Jaeger said. “Each parent/guardian that has a child being quarantined has been contacted by the school.”

     On Sunday, Oct. 4, Principal Joan Young reported two additional positive cases at the high school. Those students were exposed at school on Sept. 28 and 29.

     Jaeger’s weekly update late last week reported 21 students in isolation and 46 in quarantine. That’s about 7 percent of the student body out for COVID-related reasons.

     “This number is just slightly up from last week,” noted Jaeger.

     At this point there are 231 PreK-12 students doing full online or hybrid learning, approximately 23 percent of the district.

     Jaeger reminds parents that if their child is showing any symptoms, they must stay home from school.

     “I know that is not always easy to keep younger children home when we all have busy lives and harder to keep up with how older children are feeling because they are always on the move,” he said. “Just the same, it will be very important this year to keep your child home when they not feel well.”

     During the week, following the new guidelines from the IDPH, Jaeger shared a video explaining how these rules impact the MCSD. The rules only apply to being in close contact with someone who is not a member of one’s household. If someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, you’re still required to quarantine for 14 days.

     However, if a student or adult within the school tests positive and that person was wearing a mask, everyone else who was possibly exposed was also wearing a mask, then those “others” only need to self-monitor for COVID symptoms. Quarantine is not longer required, even if they’ve been in close contact, and those students and adults can still attend school.

     The new guidelines only work if both the positive person and others were wearing facemasks.

     These rules do not apply to those wearing a face shield, gator, or bandana. Jaeger said he contact Public Health on these specific rules himself for clarification.

     “Face shields don’t cover everything up,” he said. “They give you limited coverage. Masks put you in a position to have the least likely chance to quarantine.”

     Jaeger said students can still wear face shields, gator, and bandanas to school, but if they were exposed to someone who tests positive, they will have the quarantine for 14 days.

     “I need you to really consider what you’re wearing to school,” urged Jaeger.

     He did contact JCPH and IDPH to make a case for gators, but Jaeger said both entities are reluctant to change their mind about the proper type of face covering.

     In addition, the MCSD requires all those attending extra curricular activities to wear a mask.

     “If we can do that, we can continue to keep our activities rolling,” Jaeger concluded.


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