DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) — The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is giving updated COVID-19 guidance to schools and child care settings, telling them to treat it like any other illness.
IDPH Director Kelly Garcia issued a letter on Friday to school superintendents, child care providers, and local public health departments. Garcia outlined how schools had responded to the pandemic in the past year by implementing important safety measures but says that it is now time to loosen restrictions.
Garcia says that while positive and symptomatic kids should continue to stay home, those who are exposed to COVID-19 should no longer be required to stay home, regardless of mask usage. Parents should also be given information about the exposure to make their own decisions.
The department is also encouraging that face masks no longer be required. Garcia urged schools and child care settings to give parents and students the option to make their own decision about masks.
The changes from the IDPH come as children 12 and older are now eligible to be vaccinated and the CDC updated their mask guidance for fully vaccinated people, recommending that masks no longer need to be worn in most indoor or outdoor settings.
Our response today does not, and should not, look the same as it did a year ago. In fact, yesterday the CDC announced updated guidance rolling back mask usage for adults. Our guidance is also evolving as we learn more information. This evolution allows people to hone in on what is risky and what is not—which ultimately keeps our collective public health response strong.
Kelly Garcia, IDPH Director
Here is the department’s list of illnesses that require temporary exclusion. COVID-19 has now joined this list and is recommended to be treated similar to the following illnesses.
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