Updated IDPH Quarantine Guidelines: What You Need To Know

Outbreak coronavirus world 1024x506pxOn Tuesday, Sept. 29, Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced a change to the way in which individuals who have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 individual are placed in quarantine.

Individuals who previously would have been required to be placed in quarantine by public health after an exposure to a COVID-positive individual no longer will be required to do so based on public health guidance, when BOTH individuals are properly wearing a face mask. This change does impact our protocol in Johnson and we want to provide you with an update.

What JCSD will continue to do:
• Continue our face covering policy for all individuals. We are following the guidance in alignment with these revised recommendations regarding practices on assessments of risk, as well as strict enforcement of face covering wearing.
• Contact those individuals who are deemed as close contacts, informing them of the recommended guidelines per public health.
• Students exposed at lunch or elsewhere without a face covering/mask will still be placed in quarantine by public health.
• Students who have waivers for cloth face coverings will still need to quarantine if deemed a close contact.
• Update the dashboard on Wednesdays and Fridays with positive cases present in our district and anyone needing to be placed in quarantine.

What will change:
1. As long as the individual exposed remains asymptomatic, public health will no longer require a 14 day quarantine, as long as both individuals (the COVID-positive person and the close contact) were properly wearing a face mask.
2. A face shield and/or gaiter are not considered a face covering in the new IDPH guidance and quarantine will be required if one or both people were wearing a face shield or gaiter only. If individuals wearing a gaiter or face shield also wear a cloth or paper mask, that is acceptable.
3. While gaiters and face shields have been approved as part of our Return To Learn plan, we suggest a cloth face mask for all students.
4. What is important to note based on this recommendation shared today, is since the first day of school in our district, zero individuals have tested positive from a school exposure while in quarantine. Our mitigation strategies are working and we will continue to monitor our population to ensure safety measures are being met. If this data should change we will act accordingly to reflect our environment.

Staff or students who are currently in quarantine due to a close contact will be contacted about returning to school as soon as possible; please wait until you receive this contact from the school. If your student would have been around an individual without a face covering/mask they will still remain in quarantine for the remainder of the current quarantine time period.

Iowa Department of Public Health Guidelines:
• Close contacts of COVID-positive cases will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days if a face covering was consistently worn by both people during the exposure.
• Household/residential contacts and contacts in health care settings will still have the 14-day quarantine recommendation.
• Any type of face covering is acceptable; however, a face shield is not considered a face covering and quarantine is still required if one or both people were wearing a face shield only.
• People currently in quarantine may discontinue that quarantine if both people were wearing a face covering during the time of exposure.
• This is not a replacement for physical distancing, but it should reduce the number of quarantines in school and work settings.
• This does NOT change the isolation requirements for people that are actually sick or COVID-positive to isolate from others until: They have had no fever for at least 24 hours (that is one full day of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers) and their other symptoms have improved, AND at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared OR since they had a positive COVID test if they are asymptomatic.
• The Johnston Community School District wants to emphasize the importance of wearing face coverings consistently and correctly, with it covering both the nose and the mouth. Other recommendations such as physical distancing, staying home when you are sick, and frequently washing or disinfecting hands continue to be important practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We must remain vigilant in implementing and following our mitigation efforts.

If you have questions or concerns related to the new guidance please reach out to IDPH or Polk County Public Health.