LINN COUNTY, IA – COVID-19 remains present in our community, and will continue to have a direct impact on the daily operations of local schools. To assist school districts and help support administrators, staff, students, and families return to the classroom this fall, Linn County Public Health (LCPH) has released “Return to School” guidance. This interim guidance is based on the best public health data available at this time, and provides recommendations for how schools can keep the school environment as safe as possible for students and staff.
Pramod Dwivedi, Linn County Public Health Director states, “Recommended health practices are additional strategies that schools may choose to use to minimize the spread of COVID-19. LCPH recognizes that there are diverse learning environments that will require teams to use thoughtful strategies when applying guidance to meet the health and safety needs of all students and staff. Not all recommended practices will be possible in all settings, and therefore should be tailored as appropriate.”
Regardless of which model is used to return to school, the key recommendations include:
- Staff and students should stay home when ill.
- Encourage hand washing and use of hand sanitizer when hand washing is not available.
- Encourage students and staff to cover coughs and sneezes.
- Recommendation for students and staff to wear cloth face coverings or masks, with options to remove masks in certain situations.
- Maintain physical distance of 6 feet between students and staff when possible, and utilize alternate prevention methods when physical distancing is not possible.
- Students and staff should be reminded to not touch their face and minimize touching other individuals, i.e. handshaking, hugging, fist bumps, high fives, etc.
- Discontinue use of shared or communal items or disinfect between each use.
- Frequent disinfection of high touch surfaces.
- Screen for symptoms both at home and school.
The document, available for viewing at https://www.linncounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/14019/Return-to-School-Guidance-PDF, details options for returning to school including learning environment considerations and hybrid scheduling ideas. Guidance on infection prevention, the classroom, common areas and shared spaces, transportation, and buildings and grounds are included. Graphics depicting high, medium, and low risk are pictured in each section. As new data and practices emerge, these guidelines may need to be updated.