OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) – Tuesday, in a press conference, Governor Kim Reynolds updated the state’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. Now, mask-wearers don’t have to quarantine after being in contact with someone who tested positive, it’s had a ripple effect to schools here in Southeast Iowa. Ottumwa Community School District, who already required students to wear masks, now feels more secure in their choice.
Mike Stiemsma, Director of Student Supports for the district, says they “want to make sure that there’s a reason we’re wearing masks. And that’s to protect people and keep staff and students in school.”
The Ottumwa District has seen 18 positive cases among staff and students, and currently has 65 in quarantine. With this new mandate, that number is sure to drop.
“Even for people that are wearing masks, it’s just changing a lot for us the quarantine procedures. We’re still going to make sure we provide all the information to Wapello County Health that we can.”
But another district is making bigger moves…the Albia School District faced cases early in the school year, and quickly switched to a hybrid system, before moving back two weeks ago. And now, they’re making masks required. Superintendent Kevin Crall says if the school is “all wearing masks, we’re all in this together, it eliminates the [need for] quarantining.”
And as the Superintendent said when we talked to him about switching to hybrid, his schools aren’t constructed to promote social distancing.
But he’s optimistic requiring masks will help and says it’s a “game changer of trying to keep kids in school.”
So while critics of the Governor say these guidelines are against CDC regulations, for two school districts in the area, they help to keep their students in classrooms.
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