What happens if a student has been identified as having had close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19? According to direction issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health, this means one of two things:
- If your student shows symptoms of COVID-19 – which includes fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea – they will need to be quarantined for 14 days. That means they may not attend classes if they are in the hybrid learning model. Please call your child’s health care provider to discuss your child’s potential exposure, symptoms and testing for COVID-19.
- If your student DOES NOT show any symptoms of COVID-19, they may continue to attend school and do not need to quarantine. However, it is important to observe and monitor your child for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
These quarantine guidelines from the IDPH are based on mask use by individuals exposed to a positive COVID-19 case. The 14-day quarantine will no longer be required for close contacts when face coverings or masks are properly worn by both the person with COVID-19 and their close contact(s) during all possible exposures in public settings (excluding household, residential and healthcare settings).
However, this direction from the State of Iowa does not align with the guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which recommends a 14-day quarantine after a close contact with a positive COVID-19 case regardless of whether a person was wearing a face covering or not.
Therefore, Des Moines Public Schools will support families who wish to keep a child at home after coming in close contact with a person with COVID-19, even if they do not show symptoms, in the interest of the health and well-being of both them and others at their school. If you choose to quarantine your student for 14 days, those days will be counted as an excused absence and DMPS will provide virtual learning opportunities for your child so they may keep up with their studies. If you want to take this option, please contact the nurse at your child’s school.
All of us are working hard to educate students while keeping them and our community healthy and safe. We appreciate your understanding during this unprecedented time.