COVID-19 Dashboard FAQs

What does it mean to be a “close contact”? (Updated Oct. 5, 2020)

WDMCS works with Polk County Health Department to complete close contact tracing for positive COVID-19 cases. Under current guidelines, we have been using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of close contacts to determine who may need to quarantine for 14 days.

Close contact is defined by the CDC as within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more, regardless of personal protective equipment.

Based on new guidance from Iowa health agencies, we want to share new quarantine information that could affect you as a WDMCS employee or student. Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced in a press conference Tuesday, Sept. 29, the changes for Iowa schools.

  • A close contact no longer needs to quarantine for 14 days IF the close contact AND the person who tested positive for COVID-19 were properly wearing face masks during the time of exposure. The close contact must also monitor for symptoms and not return if symptoms start.
  • This new change ONLY applies if both people were wearing face masks. Gaiters or face shields are no longer considered equally as safe. This means if one or both of the people were wearing a gaiter or face shield, the 14-day quarantine would still apply.
  • Because of the new guidance, we strongly encourage all students and staff to wear face masks. However, if someone chooses to wear a gaiter or face shield, they need to understand they will need to quarantine for 14 days if they are ever identified as a close contact.
  • We still require a face covering (face masks, gaiter, or face shield) for all students and staff. The only difference is we are strongly encouraging people to change to face masks but will not require that change at this time.

New: IDPH COVID-19 Response: When to Quarantine (Sept. 29, 2020)

CDC: How to Select, Wear, and Clean Your Mask

How will I know if I’m a close contact and need to quarantine?

WDMCS will continue to send messages and PCHD guidance to WDMCS students and staff considered close contacts of a district-related case. This will include whether or not close contacts need to quarantine. COVID-19 information will continue to be updated each weekday on the WDMCS website, but we will no longer email families or staff who are not close contacts to announce positive COVID-19 cases at buildings.

District leadership and the Board of Education will be sent daily summaries of any cases across the district. We will also communicate with building staff and families if there is ever a need for a class or building temporary transition to online learning.

If a classroom transitions online temporarily, why isn’t every student in the class considered a close contact?
Only individuals who have been confirmed as close contacts using the parameters outlined above will be updated on the dashboard. Only some students in a class may be considered close contacts and need to quarantine for 14 days. The rest of the class would return to the building once disinfection is complete.

Why do I get an email about a positive case at my school but it doesn’t show on the dashboard?
This could happen for two reasons: either the dashboard has not yet been updated because we update by noon each weekday with the previous day’s data OR the case is a staff member. We do not show staff data individually by school.

Why don’t you show staff data individually by school?
In order to help prevent staff from being identified because there are fewer staff members in buildings than students, we group data by “elementary,” “secondary,” and “other” staff on our dashboard.

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