As you may have heard, the Iowa Department of Public Health has made a change to the quarantine recommendations that we have been following.
The change stipulates that individuals who were in close contact with one another and were both properly wearing masks for the duration of the exposure no longer need to quarantine for 14 days. However, there are a few important caveats to this change, as well as some significant items to underscore:
- This change will most impact classroom and lab situations where physical distancing may not be possible. If you are a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 in one of your classes and both of you were wearing masks, you will not have to follow the 14-day quarantine recommendation. This should be a major incentive to make sure you are wearing your mask properly in all classroom situations and as frequently as possible.
- Per the guidance from the Iowa Department of Health, household/residential contacts must still follow the 14-day quarantine recommendation. At Morningside, that means if you test positive for COVID-19, anyone you had close contact within the residence halls or while dining will still need to follow quarantine guidelines since those individuals are considered part of your Morningside family.
- The language stipulates that face shields are not considered a face covering, and if any close contacts are wearing a face shield versus a mask, all individuals would need to follow the 14-day quarantine guideline.
- This change should not be a replacement for physical distancing, but it is meant to reduce the amount of quarantining in school and work settings.
- This decision does not change any guidance associated with isolation for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.
It’s worth reiterating that this decision affirms the importance of masks. The change was made in response to a variety of studies that have shown that the use of masks significantly reduced transmission of the virus. Masks are working. Masks can slow down the spread on this campus. PLEASE do your part by wearing your mask properly and as frequently as possible.
I’m tired of COVID-19. I know you are, too. But the reality is that COVID-19 is anything but tired. In fact, many health experts warn it may only get harder as cold and flu season approaches. Many of you have been lucky enough to avoid getting sick. Some of you have managed to avoid it while choosing not to follow guidelines and engaging in risky behavior. That doesn’t make such behavior safe, and it is likely not sustainable. Even on this campus, we have seen how COVID-19 can quickly transmit among a large group not following guidelines. We have also seen that when guidelines are followed, the spread is much less.
I implore you: do your part to slow the spread on this campus and get us back to operating in yellow. Follow the guidelines because they are the best way to avoid getting sick or spreading COVID-19. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Limit close contact. Be smart.