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Bluffs Schools recommends students, staff wear masks beginning Tuesday

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Students and staff are masked up as they exit College View Elementary School following the final bell of the day on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Most students in Council Bluffs Community School District switched to full-time attendance Monday after the school district gave them the option to do so.

Council Bluffs Community Schools is recommending masks for students and staff when they return to school on Tuesday.

Superintendent Vickie Murillo cited increased cases of COVID-19 in the community and the school district in a message to students and families Friday.

“According to our partners at the Pottawattamie County (Public) Health Department, less than 20% of the current cases in the county are among children under the age of 19,” she wrote. “However, the total case numbers have increased in the past several weeks.”

As of Friday, Pottawattamie County’s positivity rate for the previous seven days was 31%, according to Iowa Department of Public Health data at coronavirus.iowa.gov.

“As a school district, we currently have some of the highest rates this school year, with about 1.8% of our student and staff population out of school due to COVID-19,” Murillo wrote. “This equals 156 students and 24 staff members.”

By 4:15 p.m. Friday, the school district’s COVID-19 information page showed even higher levels, with 173 positive cases among students and 26 among staff members. All schools were listed in the yellow, or moderate, category. The percentage for each group was listed as 2.1%. Access to the chart can be found at cb-schools.org/domain/98.

“Given the increased number of cases, we are strongly encouraging all families to have their children wear face masks around the community and at all schools beginning next Tuesday, Jan. 18 and continuing through Jan. 31 as a precaution that could help slow the spread of the virus,” Murillo wrote. “If the number of cases exceeds 4% at any one building, we will require all students and staff in that building to wear a mask for a designated period of time.”

With the rising number of cases, school officials want to follow the previous isolation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, not the reduced ones announced last week, she said.

“We feel that it is important at this time to have students remain out of school for 10 days following their first symptoms or following the date a positive test was taken, rather than decrease to five days of isolation followed by five days of required masking,” Murillo said in her message.

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