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Center Point-Urbana Schools ignore CDC Close Contact definition, CRCSD plan to announce its decision Friday

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 11:16 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Center Point-Urbana Community School District will not follow Linn County’s updated definition of a close contact.

The county announced it will switch to the stricter CDC guidelines for close contact rather than the guidelines provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health. The state’s guidelines allow people to not quarantine depending on mask usage.

The Linn-Mar Community School District and Marion Independent School District announced they will follow the new guidelines from Linn County. A spokesperson for the Cedar Rapids Community School District told TV9 it would announce its’ decision on which guideline to use on Friday.

Center Point-Urbana Community Schools District was the only school district TV9 reached out to, who said it will not use the updated close contact definition from Linn County, which is used by the CDC. It will continue to use the state definition.

Superintendent Matt Berninghaus said in a letter sent to parents obtained by TV9 that the decision was made because it serves families in Benton County as well.

“A unified approach across our state regarding the definition of what is considered “close contact” assures us that all students,” he said. “Staff members, and families are held to the same standard regardless of where we live.”

Dr. Megan Srinivas, who is an infectious disease doctor and public health researcher, said the recommendations from the CDC are the scientific consensus to stop the virus from spreading.

“It fits with the scientific data shows,” she said. “It’s not just the CDC, it’s the WHO, Harvard Global Health Institute John Hopkins Global Health; Really any major scientific institute who has experience in this field and can look at the evidence-based medicine we have out there and would say quarantine would be for anybody who’s been exposed. And a mask doesn’t give you 100% effective protection.”

Srinivas called decisions from schools like CPU concerning.

“These masks while they are effective at reducing transmission, they are not this magic barrier that suddenly stops makes the virus disappear and prevent transition altogether,” she said. “Not recognizing what we know about this virus or not using medical information to guide decisions only endangers your community even more.”

Linn County Public Health said the CDC’s definition of close contact gives it an opportunity to be comprehensive in identifying close contacts that may have become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 in a provocative way.

Tricia Kitzmann, who is a spokesperson for Linn County Public Health, said she understands the additional burden on schools, bt believes it will lead to fewer people quarantining in the future.

“Linn County Public Health realizes this may place additional burden shorter term on our local businesses and schools because of the additional staff and teachers potentially needing to quarantine due to being identified as a close contact,” she said. “However, comprehensive identification of close contacts for quarantine leads to fewer cases and thus fewer people quarantining in the future.”

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