Iowa City Community School District reports nearly 1,000 students quarantining

As contact tracing for confirmed positive cases surges, 984 ICCSD students — 6.62 percent of the district’s student population — are in quarantine.

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Jake Maish

A sign for the Iowa City Community School District is seen outside the district’s administration building on Tuesday, April 28. (Jake Maish/The Daily Iowan)

Grace Hamilton, News Reporter


As of Monday, 975 students in the Iowa City Community School District are in quarantine, nearly two months after the district offered students the option to return to entirely on-site learning.

The school district ditched its hybrid model in January after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and the state Legislature required all K-12 schools to offer a fully in-person learning option. Iowa City schools now offer both in-person and online options.

According to the district’s COVID-19 Dashboard, there are 52 positive cases and 73 presumed positive cases among the 984 quarantining students.

Thirty-one district staff members are in quarantine as well, with no confirmed positive cases and three presumed positive cases of those quarantined.

Ten classrooms are closed, but no extracurricular activities and programs have been affected.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, Iowa City Community School District Director of Community Relations Kristin Pedersen wrote that the increase in district quarantines results partly from the return to 100 percent in-person learning.

“Over the past few weeks, when conducting contact tracing for confirmed positive cases in our buildings, we have seen an increase in the number of students identified as close contacts,” Pedersen wrote. “This increase is, in part, due to the influx of students in our buildings since returning to 100 percent on-site learning and the inability to no longer maintain proper social distancing measures.”

Pedersen added the district only conducts contact tracing for confirmed positive cases.

Professor of Epidemiology and Internal Medicine Eli Perencevich took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the district’s mounting COVID-19 case and quarantine counts.

“2 weeks ago contact tracers and school staff said this was happening,” Perencevich wrote on Twitter April 8. “Now, Iowa City schools have 145 students actively positive and 699 students in quarantine. This was preventable.”

 

Perencevich’s tweet has amassed 271 retweets and 484 likes since April 8.

Mike Schluckebier, Iowa City parent of two elementary students, said both of his children quarantined just a few weeks ago.

“We’re concerned in general, but specifically with our kids, less concerned,” Schluckebier said. “We are not necessarily less concerned because it doesn’t affect the kids as much from a fitness standpoint, but because I’m working from home and I can handle the quarantine as needed. I’m more concerned about the families that have no coverage or have employers that are far less sensitive to needing child care.”

Although Schluckebier said he wishes the state Legislature took the gradual vaccination rollout into account when requiring schools to offer a 100-percent on-site option, he said his children have been learning in any available in-person model the district has offered since the start of the school year.

“Initially, the district was online only, but we first put them in the hybrid [learning model] because the online-only environment was not one where they thrived as well,” he said. “It was a calculated risk. We knew we were risking the potential of them getting COVID-19 weighed against the low likelihood that it would affect them negatively.”

Jacob Story, a parent of a student that attends Northwest Junior High, said his daughter is currently in quarantine after being notified by the district that she was in direct contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Northwest Junior High made for 313 of the district’s 984 student quarantines, and currently has 12 confirmed positive cases. The school also accounted for a majority of quarantines during a COVID-19 case influx in the district a month ago.

Notified each day of COVID-19 spreading through the school his daughter attends, Story said he wishes the district provided more information on how it plans to manage the influx.

“I have no doubt that they don’t have the resources that they need to do this better. That’s largely something out of their control in terms of funding and things like that,” Story said. “But I guess I hope that there was more communication directly about plans, considering the rates at Northwest have been so high, and about what’s going on. It just continues to be the form letters that get sent out every day or two right now.”

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