Reynolds: Teachers Are Essential Workers, May Work If Exposed To Case, But Not Showing COVID Symptoms

Statewide Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds says the source of Covid-19 outbreaks will be considered as state officials review school district requests to temporarily shift to remote learning. The guidelines released last week indicate at least 10 percent of students must be absent in a district – AND a rolling, 14-day average of Covid-19 tests must show at least 15 percent of residents in the county or counties in which the district is located must be ill. Seven counties now meet or exceed that 15 percent threshold. Reynolds says Webster County — with a current 22 percent positivity rate — shows why it’s unlikely the state would approve an online-only option for districts in that county.

(As above) “They have, as you are very well aware of, an outbreak at the state prison there,” Reynolds said, “and that is in a completely contained environment.” 

The governor says confirmed outbreaks at businesses or institutions like a state prison are a key metric that may suggest closing a school for 14 days is not the right decision.

(As above) “The community context will be so important for schools to consider,” she says. 

And the three school districts in Webster County — Fort Dodge, Prairie Valley and Southeast Webster — should be planning to begin classes in-person this month, according to the governor.

(As above) “I think that they should make every effort to get those kids back to school,” Reynolds says. “…We have kids that are practicing football right now…and they’re figuring out a way to do it safely and responsibly.”

Reynolds indicated teachers and school staff should be allowed to work if they have been around someone who tested positive for the virus, but are not showing symptoms.

(As above) “I think it’s the guidelines that we’ve followed all along for essential workforce determined by the federal guidelines,” Reynolds says, “and our teachers absolutely fall into essential workforce.”

Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state medical director, says if there are teacher shortages, teachers may volunteer to work even if they’ve been potentially exposed to Covid.

(As above) “We can do things to safely allow some of those critical workers to return to roles,” Pedati says, “but it includes things like monitoring of symptoms and temperature twice a day, using a face mask.” 

However, students with or without symptoms will be asked to quarantine for 14 days if they’ve been around someone who tests positive for Covid.



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