State issues new COVID-19 guidelines

How Tama Co. schools are impacted

New guidelines regarding quarantining and wearing masks were issued by the State of Iowa last week.

It is no longer recommended that people outside of healthcare and residential settings quarantine when potentially exposed. That is as long as the person infected with COVID-19 and the person exposed are wearing face masks.

So how do the new guidelines impact schools in Tama County?

At Gladbrook-Reinbeck the new guidelines will not change their approach. They have been requiring face masks.

“It does help to reinforce what we already have in place. We will continue to share all information with our county health departments so they are able to make the recommendations on who is to quarantine,” said Erik Smith, G-R Superintendent.

At South Tama only three students have had to quarantine due to the former guidelines, according to Superintendent Jared Smith.

“We will honor the new recommendations – students will not need to quarantine if they have masks on,” said Smith

Smith also said this new rule does not impact South Tama much since buildings are at 50% capacity.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 6 25 students/teachers remain in isolation according to the COVID-19 tracker on South Tama’s website.

At the time of deadline there had been no response from GMG Superintendent Ben Petty.

Per GMG’s online COVID-19 tracker, there were 37 in quarantine as of Sept. 25 but with the guideline change some of those people have since been released. GMG had two individuals in quarantine Sept. 11 and five in quarantine Sept. 18.

On September 18 and 25 GMG had 1-5 positive cases in the district.

North Tama recently moved their elementary from hybrid to 100% capacity Oct. 1 after meeting metrics set in place by the district. The high school remains hybrid.

Much like South Tama, North Tama’s district’s operation at 50% capacity during the first five weeks of the school year has allowed them to limit close contacts and the need for contact tracing.

“We’ve had zero cases in which an individual has needed to quarantine for 14 days due to in-school close contact with a positive individual. Now that NT Elementary is returning at 100% capacity, limiting close contact will be more of a challenge. So, while Governor Reynolds’ new quarantine guidelines have had no immediate effect on North Tama, we anticipate that in the coming days these new guidelines will result in fewer students and staff being required to quarantine,” Superintendent David Hill said.

Since the beginning of the school year, North Tama has required a face covering whenever social distancing cannot be accomplished.

Now that the Iowa Department of Public Health has clarified that plastic face shields alone are not sufficient to meet Governor Reynolds’ new quarantine guidance, North Tama is modifying local guidelines to reflect this change. Effective immediately, plastic face shields alone will not be considered an acceptable face covering at North Tama. Students and staff may still wish to wear a plastic face covering in combination with a cloth or disposable mask as an additional precaution.

North Tama recently received a shipment of plain white cloth masks from the state of Iowa. While the district has already provided each student with a Redhawk logo mask, they have also informed families that if their child is in need of a replacement mask or an additional mask from this shipment, they will be glad to provide one while supplies last. The school will also continue to maintain a supply of disposable masks.

Lastly at Union they will continue with 100% face to face instruction, but they are changing their contact tracing guidelines to follow the new information released last week.

Union already had required face masks for all students and staff when they cannot meet the physical distancing guidelines.