New mask guidance: When to Quarantine

September 30, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians of East Sac County Community School Students,

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has made a change on quarantine recommendations for people that have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19. This applies in non-healthcare, non-residential settings only. This includes businesses, education and child care settings.

This guidance recommends that close contacts of COVID-positive cases will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days if a face covering was worn consistently and correctly by the positive case and close contacts. The positive case must still isolate. If exposure occurs while a student is not wearing a mask (ie. lunch) they will need to quarantine at home. If the positive case wore a face covering, but close contacts did not, those close contacts must be quarantined.  If the positive case did not wear a face covering, close contacts must quarantine whether or not they wore a face covering.  Individuals who are a close contact due to exposure to a household member are still required to quarantine for at least 14 days from last exposure.

Close contacts will continue to be notified via telephone when there is a need to monitor your student.

Parents may choose to have their student quarantine at home if they wish.

The close contacts MUST self-monitor. These guidelines include:

  • Wear a face mask at all times, except when eating and drinking
  • Social distance whenever possible
  • Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, including temperature twice a day over the next 14 days
  • If any symptoms develop, STAY HOME, notify your school nurse and speak with a healthcare provider about COVID-19 testing.
  • If people who are self-monitoring become ill but do not get tested, they should remain home until 10 days after symptom onset

With this new guidance the type of face covering is also very important.  Neck gaiters, bandanas, and masks with valves will not count as appropriate face coverings to avoid the 14 day quarantine at this time.  Therefore, we are asking students and staff to avoid the use of gaiters, bandanas, and masks with valves. Face shields worn alone (without a mask underneath) will also not count. 

Please know that this guidance does not 100% exclude your student from quarantine if they wear a face mask.  ESC recognizes that wearing masks may not be possible in every situation (breakfast, lunch, sports) or for some people. In some situations, wearing a mask may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition or introduce significant safety concerns. Wearing masks may be difficult for people with sensory, cognitive, or behavioral issues. Individuals requesting mask exemptions may contact the district office regarding medical exemptions. A cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.  COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets that can travel about 6 feet.

For additional guidance on how to select, wear and care for masks and a list of acceptable face coverings – please visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html

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