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The Iowa Department of Education issued guidance and information on Thursday for reopening Iowa schools in the fall.

The guidance was created in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health and must be used in conjunction with all proclamations issued by the governor and guidance provided by IDPH.

Districts and nonpublic schools may plan for reopening using the Return-to-Learn support document as a resource.

Schools must put plans in place to protect staff and students at higher risk of developing illness.

Beginning July 1, school districts and accredited nonpublic schools may begin offering all school activities.

The health and safety guidelines state:

Staff or students who are ill should stay home;

The CDC does NOT recommend schools screen students and staff upon entering the building;

Teach and reinforce washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;

Requiring face coverings for all staff and students is NOT recommended;

Teach and reinforce the prevention of stigma associated with the use or non-use of facial coverings to support a respectful, inclusive and supportive school environment;

Schools should protect the confidentiality of employees and students/families who may or may not wear a face covering;

Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and training for employees who have medium-to-high-risk of exposure;

Schools may not be able to guarantee physical distancing can be met in all school settings throughout the entire school day, during activities or with transportation;

Post signs on how to stop the spread of illness, properly wash hands and promote everyday protective measures;

Have a general framework for routine cleaning practices of facilities, high touch surface areas, cafeterias, concession stands, health offices and buses.

Schools also should communicate with student families if there is a health concern. Contact tracing and self-isolation may be required upon recommendation by public health.

Author: Jacob Hall