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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 April 11, 2022

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?
Due to a law (HF847) signed in May 2021, and the January 25, 2022, 8th District Court ruling. Ames CSD cannot have a district-wide mask requirement. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control strongly recommends face masks be worn in schools if the community level of COVID-19 is high. When the COVID-19 community level is high, students, staff, and visitors should provide their own face mask. If a student loses or forgets their mask, each school has disposable masks available. ACSD recommends that students and staff follow CDC guidance for selecting a mask

Are masks required on school buses?
Effective February 25, 2022, CDC does not require the wearing of masks on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education/child care programs. 

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 5 days after their symptoms started or 5 days after the day of a positive test if they have no symptoms. This includes those who are vaccinated and test positive. Students or staff desiring to return after 5 days will be required to mask for days 6-10. Those who do not choose to wear a mask will be required to stay out for 10 days.

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?
Classroom notification of positive cases will be limited to building identified high-risk students.

Will parents be notified if a child is considered a close contact/ Will the schools do contact tracing this year?
Per CDC recommendation, contact tracing has ended and notification of close contact will be limited to building identified high-risk students.

Will my child be required to quarantine if they are considered a close contact?
According to the IDPH, exposed children 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 school buildings close due to illness?
As the pandemic continues, we have received questions related to when we would close a specific classroom or building. Ames CSD’s goal is to keep our schools open. With the high number of cases in the community, there is not a situation where we would anticipate closing down a classroom or grade level due to illness. When student absences due to illness in a building exceed 10%, Ames CSD will consult with Story County Public Health as per state requirements for additional mitigation recommendations. The only time we would close a building would be due to an inability to safely supervise children, and only after all possible staff coverage strategies have been exhausted.

Will parents/volunteers be allowed in school buildings?
Yes, as long as the community levels of COVID-19 remain low to moderate. At high community levels, 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 the community levels remain low to moderate. At high community levels, parent/volunteer entry within the school will be evaluated on a case-to-case basis.

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.


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

New COVID-19 Cases

Per 100,000 people in the past 7 days

Indicators

Low

Medium

High

Fewer than 200

New COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population (7-day total)

<10.0

10.0-19.9

≥20.0

Percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (7-day average)

<10.0%

10.0-14.9%

≥15.0%

200 or more

New COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population (7-day total)

NA

<10.0

≥10.0

Percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (7-day average)

NA

<10.0%

≥10.0%

 

Mitigation Strategy Low/Moderate Community Levels High Community Levels
Vaccination Strongly encouraged for all eligible persons. Strongly encouraged for all eligible persons.
Masking

People may choose to mask at any time. People with symptoms, or a positive test should wear a mask.

Masks are strongly recommended to be worn by all teachers, staff, students, and visitors inside our school buildings. 

Physical Distancing PK-12th Grade: Normal distancing. 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 Normal Cleaning/Disinfection per ACSD protocols.

Enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces.

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
Isolation/School Exclusion Required for any student or staff with a positive COVID test. The isolation period is10 days after the day symptoms started or after the test date if asymptomatic.  Students or staff may return as early as day 6, if they choose to wear a mask days 6-10 while indoors. Required for any student or staff with a positive COVID test. The isolation period is 10 days after the day symptoms started or after the test date if asymptomatic. Students or staff may return as early as day 6, if they choose to wear a mask days 6-10 while indoors.
Quarantine/Close Contact Exposure Strongly recommended for household-related exposure. May use shortened quarantine with testing. Strongly recommended for household-related exposure. May use 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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