Dear Parents, Guardians and Community Members:
I wanted to send a message to keep you informed and up to date concerning COVID-19. There is a lot of information for parents to look at, and it can be confusing or maybe even a little misleading. I hope this will help give you a better understanding of how we make our decisions at Exira-EHK. You may have noticed the increase in positivity rates in the two counties of the Exira-EHK school district. As of Friday, Nov. 6 at 12:30 p.m.:
●Audubon County 19.4 percent
●Shelby County 17.4 percent
What do those numbers actually mean? It does not mean that 19.4 percent of Audubon County residents haveCOVID-19. It actually means that 19.4 percent of the people who were tested for COVID-19 over the past 14days tested positive. It also means that 80.6 percent of the people tested did not have COVID-19. State guidelines allow schools to request remote learning if the positivity rates are above 15 percent and the absenteeism rate is above 10 percent, with the 10 percent only being counted if the individual tested positive.Individuals who are quarantined but have not tested positive are not included in the 10 percent absentee number. Every day the Exira-EHK administrative team and school nurses discuss our schools’ absenteeism rates, along with county-wide positivity rates. We then determine what is best for our school district. Even though county-wide positivity rates have increased, our attendance is steady. Having distance learning on Wednesdays has helped to minimize our absences and allow for cleaning. As we move forward, staff absenteeism will be a consideration as well. Although we have amazing,hard-working substitute teachers, the number of substitutes available to our district is small. Because of this shortage of substitutes, our staff are considered critical/essential personnel and can be allowed to return to work after exposure, if they test negative, remain asymptomatic, and wear a mask at work.Staff requirements are a little different than what the student requirements are. Positive student cases will need to be isolated for the 10/1 rule (10 days of isolation and 24 hours fever free without the use of fever-reducing medicine, and symptoms improving). This is the same rule that has been used since the start of school. Close contact exposure is investigated from the start of symptoms to 48 hours before the start of symptoms. An example would be if an individual was tested positive on Thursday but symptoms started on Wednesday; contact tracing goes back to Monday as that is 48 hours from when symptoms started. In the case of an asymptomatic positive test result, the close contact investigation goes back 48 hours before the positive test. Household members of positive student cases will still be asked to quarantine for 14 days from the time of last contact with the positive person. People will still need to be quarantined if they are within 6 ft for 15 min (consecutive) without a mask or double layer gaiter (meaning no face covering, or while wearing a single layer gaiter, face shield or vented mask). Examples might include eating together, playing in sporting events, or anytime masks are not worn.Confidentiality laws and guidelines do not allow the sharing of health information, but we are being as transparent as possible with our students, families, and community members. We take COVID-19 and the safety of your child and our staff members very seriously. We are working closely with Iowa Public Health, Department of Education, and our nursing staff to make the best decisions we can for our school.