The Carroll Community School District no longer will have a mask mandate as of Monday, and students no longer will be required to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
The Carroll School Board held a special meeting this evening to revise the district's Return to Learn plan with these changes, based on new guidelines from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The vote was not unanimous, with school board members Karen Friedlein, Duane Horsley, Jen Munson and Onica Ulveling voting in favor of the change, and Cindy Johnson voting against.
“Today, the Iowa Department of Public Health has adjusted its guidance to recommend that schools and childcare settings approach COVID-19 like other child illnesses,” states a letter to schools from Kelly Garcia, director of the Iowa departments of Public Health and Human Services, on Friday. “This guidance comes in consultation with the Department of Education, and underscores that the overall health and well-being of children must be our primary focus.”
The guidelines note that students with a positive COVID-19 test or COVID-19 symptoms still should remain home, but those who have been exposed but don't have a positive test or symptoms still can come to school.
Information from the Iowa Department of Health lists COVID-19 as an illness for which students should be kept home from school along with chicken pox, some cases of diarrhea, impetigo, influenza, whooping cough, strep throat and vomiting.
“Moreover, when there is a positive case, parents should be given information around exposure to COVID-19 in order to make their own informed decisions regarding risk,” the letter states. “To that end, while we acknowledge that some parents may want their child to continue to wear a cloth face covering for reasons that make sense for their family or that child’s individual health condition, we urge schools and child care settings to provide parents and students with the option to make their own decision about mask usage.”
Carroll Schools Superintendent Casey Berlau said in tonight's meeting that the district will support students and staff members who choose to continue to wear a face covering.
He noted that the district has worked throughout the year to follow guidelines from the local and state public health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latter of which also recently announced that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks indoors or in public places.
“The recommendation in front of you is consistent with what we've done all year,” Berlau said.
The changes go in effect immediately and apply to school buildings, grounds and buses. The district's current Return to Learn plan expires on May 28, the last day of school, and if a new one for the upcoming school year is needed, it will be developed over the summer.