Exposure Guidelines

  • Staff and student safety has always been a top priority for WDMCS, and we are being extra vigilant this year in the face of COVID-19. Steps we’re taking to protect students, staff, and families include:

    • Daily wellness checks before school
    • Daily staff wellness check-ins at school
    • Closely monitoring potential and confirmed exposures to COVID-19

    COVID-19 Exposure Flowchart

    Remember, we use the CDC definition of close contact—within 6 ft of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for 15 or more minutes.

    If you think you have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or that you have COVID-19:

    • Contact your principal and school nurse as soon as possible.
    • Include specifics related to your case, referencing the exposure document.
    • Share any updates with your principal and school nurse.

    We appreciate the partnership of our WDMCS families as we work together to limit the spread of COVID-19. We are here to support you and encourage you to use the resources available to you through WDMCS at this time.

    New Information Changes Quarantine Rules (Oct. 1)

    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.

    Who made the changes?
    Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced in a press conference Tuesday, Sept. 29, the changes for Iowa schools.

    What are the changes?

    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.
    Does this mean everyone is now required to wear face masks instead of gaiters or face shields?

    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.

  • Exposure Scenarios for Students, Staff

    BEFORE SCHOOL EACH DAY: self-monitor for fever and COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms can include fever or chills (100.4), cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.


    Nine Scenarios: What to Do

    1. Confirmed diagnosis for COVID-19 with NO Symptoms
      Can return to school/work if you have no symptoms for 10 days after testing. If symptoms develop, refer to Scenario #2. (CDC Isolation Guidelines)
    2. Confirmed diagnosis for COVID-19 WITH Symptoms
      Can return to school/work 10 days after illness starts AND at least 24 hours have passed since last fever without using fever-reducing medications AND all other symptoms have improved. (CDC Symptoms Guidelines) (CDC Exposure Guidelines)
    3. Close contact (within 6 ft for 15 min) of a confirmed case of COVID-19.
      Close contact starts 48 hours before the person began to feel sick. Self-quarantine until 14 days after the last exposure to the confirmed cases. (CDC Close Contact Guidelines) (CDC Self-Quarantine Guidelines)
    4. Testing negative for COVID-19 who are NOT a close contact of a confirmed case. Can return to normal activities 24 hours after a fever and other symptoms have resolved.
    5. Testing negative for COVID-19 who ARE close contacts of a confirmed case.
      Close contact starts 48 hours before the person began to feel sick. Self-quarantine until 14 days after the last exposure to the confirmed cases. (CDC Self-Quarantine Guidelines)
    6. COVID-19 symptoms but did not test for Covid-19
      Must isolate at home. Can return to school 10 days after illness starts AND at least 24 hours have passed since last fever without using fever-reducing medications AND all other symptoms have improved. (CDC Symptoms Guidelines) (CDC Self-Quarantine Guidelines)
    7. Tested for COVID-19 with symptoms – waiting for results.
      Must self-quarantine at home. Can return after 24 hours have passed since last fever without using fever-reducing medications AND all symptoms have improved, AND
      10 days since symptoms appeared. If test results are negative, must be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications and symptoms are improving.
      Follow WDMCS illness guidelines. (CDC Self-Quarantine Guidelines)
    8. When a healthcare provider confirms another diagnosis or a pre-existing condition.
      Follow specific return guidance from the health care provider or follow the WDMCS illness guidelines.
    9. If you are in close contact of a person who was in close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case.
      No exclusion necessary. Self- monitor for symptoms for 14 days.


    Flowchart: When to Send a Student to the Nurse

    flowchart when to send a student to the nurse

     

Communication Process

  • UPDATE (October 1):
    The West Des Moines Community Schools will continue to send messages and Polk County Health Department (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.

    How will I know about COVID-19 cases and exposure in WDMCS?
    When a student or employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) works with the Polk County Health Department (PCHD) to identify close contacts and determine the appropriate next steps. WDMCS also collaborates with PCHD to provide guidance and support to students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with a confirmed case.

    We must maintain privacy of individuals but will share extensive communication regarding exposure or potential exposure to allow families and staff to make informed decisions. Because each case is unique, WDMCS communicates through our Blackboard email, text, and app alerts.

    You may receive communication about:

    • Being identified as a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19. (Close contact is defined by the CDC as within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more, regardless of personal protective equipment.)
      • Your school nurse or another district staff member will reach out to you by phone to share that you have been identified as a close contact. They will provide next steps regarding school or work and health information from PCHD.
      • You will also receive an email and app alert from WDMCS with the same information and a letter for close contacts from PCHD attached.
      • Then, a Polk County nurse will follow up with you by phone to review the information and provide more specific guidance.
    • Your class transitioning to virtual learning.
      1. If an on-site class needs to transition to virtual learning, families and staff will receive a notice by email, text, and app alert. The email will include what day the transition is starting; your building principal will provide more information about how long the transition may last.
      2. Families and staff will receive a similar notice when a class can transition back to on-site learning. The email will include what day on-site learning will resume and other information specific to your situation.

    For more information about positive cases and close contacts in WDMCS, you can follow our COVID-19 dashboard, which is updated daily. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please follow our COVID-19 exposure guidelines.

Last Modified on March 1, 2021