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COVID-19 Information

We know families may have questions about school as coronavirus continues to impact our community. We will continue to evaluate and add to the FAQ and mitigation guidance, as well as provide any further information, as conditions change.  

Updated September 16, 2021

Is Ames CSD doing COVID-19 mitigation in the 21-22 school year?
Yes. Ames CSD will continue to follow allowable mitigation strategies under Iowa regulations. Sources for these recommendations include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Association of Pediatricians (AAP) and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Will Ames CSD require masks this year?
At a Special School Board Meeting on September 15, the Ames Board of Directors voted to reinstate a mask requirement at all of our school buildings. The mask requirement is in effect starting on Friday, September 17 and applies to all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to our school buildings. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control strongly recommends face masks be worn in schools, regardless of a person’s vaccination status. Students, staff, and visitors should provide their own face mask. If a student loses or forgets their mask, each school has disposable masks available. 

This requirement applies to our indoor extracurricular activities and athletic events as well. Face masks are not required but are still strongly encouraged at events held outside, such as home football games. 

ACSD Request for Reasonable Accommodation

Are masks required on school buses?
Yes, school bus drivers and passengers are required to wear masks as defined by an order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Are COVID-19 vaccines required for staff or for students?
No, however, Ames CSD strongly encourages anyone eligible to receive a vaccine to do so. According to the CDC, vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will elementary students have zoned/separated recess groups?
When outside, there will not be zoned/separated recess groups. 

Will buildings continue to use multiple entry points by class/grade?
These decisions will be made on a building-by-building basis.

If my child is diagnosed with COVID-19, will they be required to stay home?
Yes, children and staff diagnosed as positive for COVID-19 are required to stay home for 10 days after their symptoms started or 10 days after a positive test if they have no symptoms. This includes those who are vaccinated and test positive.

What about access to testing now that Test Iowa is closed?
No cost Test Iowa at home mail-in COVID-19 test kits are now currently available at Ames CSD schools and the District Office. These saliva-based tests can be conducted at home and sent to the state hygienic lab for analysis. Interested families should contact your building’s nurse for more information. A consent form needs to be completed by a parent at test pickup to comply with Iowa Department of Education requirements. Please only request a test kit if you plan to use it that day, as our testing supply is limited. Families desiring tests to keep at home in case of future need may request up to five kits at a time for free from TestIowa.com. Additionally, testing is still available from physician offices and pharmacies. Finally, COVID-19 rapid tests are available for purchase without a prescription from many pharmacy chains.

Will parents be notified if there is a positive COVID-19 case in their classroom?
When community transmission of COVID-19 is low to moderate, communication of a positive case will be at the building level. Notification at the classroom level may also be indicated if community transmission is substantial/high or within-school spread of COVID-19 is identified.

Will parents be notified if a child is considered a close contact/ Will the schools do contact tracing this year?
This is dependent upon grade level.

  • PK-6th grade: Contact tracing will be done (close contacts defined as within 6 feet for longer than 15 total minutes). Parents will be notified via email if their child is a close contact.
  • 7th-12 grade and adults: Due to the availability of vaccines for these groups, contact tracing/close contact identification will only be done if community transmission of COVID-19 is substantial/high or within-school spread is identified. Contact tracing at elevated community transmission may be limited to identification of a positive case in the classroom, but specific close contact identification will not be completed.

Will my child be required to quarantine if they are considered a close contact?
While we will continue to notify parents of possible exposure to COVID-19 in their classroom, according to the IDPH, exposed children (close contacts) should no longer be required to stay home. Ames CSD strongly recommends quarantine for those who have a household exposure to COVID-19. In the 20-21 school year there was very limited spread within school for students, however transmission was identified within households.

Will Ames CSD have a COVID-19 dashboard on their website?
Yes. A COVID-19 dashboard will be available on the Ames CSD website this year. Ames CSD shifted to using the CDC data for community indicators due to the CDC’s more frequent update schedule. At this time, county-level community indicators like positivity and case rate are released through IDPH on a weekly basis. A daily update will include community indicators and numbers of students or staff currently positive and in their infectious period for COVID-19 at the High School, Middle School and Elementary School.

Will parents/volunteers be allowed in school buildings?
Yes, as long as the community spread of COVID-19 remains low to moderate (14 day case rate of <15 and positivity <10%). At a substantial or high level of community spread, parent/ volunteer entry within the school will be evaluated on a case to case basis. 

Can parents eat lunch with their child?
Yes, as long as community spread of COVID-19 remains low to moderate (14 day case rate of <15 and positivity <10%). Parents will be allowed to eat lunch with their child as long as they are 6 feet from other children not in their household.

Are in-person parent-teacher meetings possible?
Meetings with teachers may be either in-person or online as the situation permits.

How will physical distancing be practiced?
Following CDC guidance, physical distancing will be maximized to the extent possible within buildings and classrooms.

Where will students eat? Will it be socially distanced?
Following CDC guidance, physical distancing will be maximized to the extent possible within lunchrooms/cafeterias.

Will online remote learning be offered this year?
Students in grades 6-12 will have the option of online remote learning by engaging in courses offered through the Edgenuity platform. The Ames CSD will offer a remote learning option this fall for K-5 elementary students who have, or live in a household, with a severe health condition. The deadline to submit interest was Friday, August 13, 2021 by 3 pm. 


HEPA Air Filters

How has the performance of central HVAC systems been assessed throughout the district? 

  • Throughout the COVID pandemic, the district has worked with a licensed mechanical engineer who is actively involved in the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force for Schools working on air quality in schools.
  • An air flow evaluation was competed for each building
  • The evaluation addressed quantity and flow of fresh air into the building and air changes in each occupied room
  • Ventilation systems have been adjusted to divert additional fresh air to occupied spaces during the day
  • Additionally, with guidance from ASHRAE, ventilation systems have been programmed to operate two hours beyond occupied times in order to accomplish a “building flush” with fresh air.

What specific upgrades have been made to central HVAC systems?
The original HVAC system specifications were reviewed to determine the designed air volume and flow. The actual air flow and rates for the main ventilation equipment as well as the room fan coil units can be confirmed through the Building Automation System and adjusted as needed. The District continues to replace filters in the main equipment as well as in the fan coil units in all buildings.

Has the District considered allowing parents to provide portable HEPA filters to classrooms to supplement the performance of central HVAC systems to help improve air quality and potentially reduce the concentration of viral particles in the air?
After review of safety considerations, initial purchase price, and ongoing maintenance expense, the district will provide HEPA air purifiers as needed. Considerations will be based on:

  • design and actual air volume and flow
  • spaces where accommodations are necessary
  • spaces where activities or functions allow for the practical use of HEPA filters 

Sources for these recommendations include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Association of Pediatricians (AAP) and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Local COVID-19 Risk Level*
*Using CDC definitions for levels of community transmission

  • Low/Moderate Community Transmission: Total new cases/100,000 in past 7 days <50 or Positivity: <8%
  • Substantial/High Community Transmission: Total new cases/100,000 in past 7 days =/>50 or Positivity =/> 8%
Mitigation Strategy Low/Moderate Community Transmission Substantial/High Community Transmission
Vaccination Strongly encouraged for all eligible persons. Strongly encouraged for all eligible persons.
Masking

Masks are required to be worn by applies to all teachers, staff, students, and visitors inside our school buildings. Required on school buses per federal order.

Masks are required to be worn by applies to all teachers, staff, students, and visitors inside our school buildings. Required on school buses per federal order.

Physical Distancing PK-12th Grade: Distancing to the greatest extent; 3 feet when possible.  Six feet distancing between adults/students. PK-12th Grade: Distancing to the greatest extent; 3 feet when possible.  Six feet distancing between adults/students.
Ventilation HVAC systems evaluated and ventilation maximized within system availability. HVAC systems evaluated and ventilation maximized within system availability.
Cleaning/Disinfection Per the CDC, cleaning once a day is sufficient to remove viruses on surfaces.

Enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces during the day. PK-6th nightly disinfection of shared spaces.

Visitors Yes No, except as listed below.
Building use Outside groups may use school spaces. Outside groups building usage may be reevaluated on a case-by-case basis depending on activity, group size, and impact on building cleaning protocols.
Managing Illness/Exposure
Testing Test Iowa Free At-Home Tests available at all schools Test Iowa Free At-Home Tests available at all schools
Contact Tracing

PK-6th grade: Notification of exposure for persons within 3 feet for longer than 15 minutes. Emailed notification of a positive case in the school at the building level.

7th-12th grade and adults: Close contact identification will not be done as this group is vaccine eligible. Communication of a positive case will be at the building level via email & on the Ames CSD Dashboard.

PK-6th grade: Notification of exposure for persons within 3 feet for longer than 15 minutes. Emailed notification of a positive case in the school at the building level and may be at the classroom level.

7th-12 grade and adults: Close contact identification may be done if within-school spread is identified. Communication of a positive case may be at the class/building level via email & on the Ames CSD dashboard.

Isolation/School Exclusion Required for any student or staff with a positive COVID test. The isolation period is 10 days from symptom start or from test date if asymptomatic. Required for any student or staff with a positive COVID test. The isolation period is 10 days from symptom start or from test date if asymptomatic.
Quarantine/Close Contact Exposure Strongly recommended for household-related exposure. May used shortened quarantine with testing. Strongly recommended for household-related exposure. May used shortened quarantine with testing.
PK-6th Specific Mitigation
Media Center Open browsing with social distancing to the greatest extent possible. No need to quarantine books. Open browsing may be eliminated if social distancing is not possible. No need to quarantine books.
Field Trips Yes May need to be evaluated on a case by case basis for the level of risk and community spread.
Zoned Recess When outside, there will not be zoned/separated recess groups. When outside, there will not be zoned/separated recess groups.
Band/Orchestra/Vocal Music Follow Professional Organization Guidance (IHSMA or other appropriate groups). Follow Professional Organization Guidance (IHSMA or other appropriate groups).

Other mitigation strategies updated for the 2021-22 school year:

  • One-way hallways are not recommended
  • Lockers may be used
  • Water fountains can be used
  • All meetings can be held face to face – consider the option of online meetings if beneficial (i.e. if it will increase participation, option for parent-teacher conferences, etc)
  • Requirement for separate entrance and exit doors for class groups  – may be evaluated on a per building basis if separate entrances were identified as a benefit (helped with flow, behavior, etc)  
  • Restrooms can be fully opened (don’t need every other stall closed)
  • One nurse’s office – no separate sick-room/well-room
  • Classroom managed minor first aid continued
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