116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Test Iowa kits available to staff, soon to be available to students, to test for COVID-19 at home
Cedar Rapids school officials are considering requiring masks after a federal judge ordered Monday that the state of Iowa immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school districts from requiring them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Cedar Rapids schools Superintendent Noreen Bush said the district is waiting on additional guidance from the Iowa Department of Education, consulting legal counsel and meeting as a district team to discuss how best to move forward.
“This information came in really quickly,” Bush said during a school board meeting Monday. “We know our communities are counting on us to communicate quickly.”
Over 90 students are positive for COVID-19 in Cedar Rapids schools, “more than we had at any given point of time last year,” Bush said.
The district reported 96 students and nine staff positive for COVID-19 as of Friday.
The “vulnerability” of children who are not able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is of increasing concern, Bush said. COVID-19 vaccines are only approved for people 12 years and older.
The federal judge’s order Monday said Reynolds and Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo cannot enforce the law that bans locally elected school boards from using their discretion to mandate masks for students, staff, teachers and visitors inside schools.
He issued a temporary restraining order to be in effect immediately. It remains in effect until the court issues an order for a preliminary injunction.
School board President Nancy Humbles and members Cindy Garlock, Jennifer Neumann and Dexter Merschbrock said they would support a district decision to require masks.
“I strongly encourage you to have a mask mandate for our students,” Garlock said. “I think the data is clear, the science is clear, and we want to provide a safe environment for all our kids and the best way to do that is with a mask.”
Merschbrock said he would support “anything we can do” — including using Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds — to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
He suggested schools be a drop-off point for Test Iowa kits, which could be delivered to the State Hygienic Lab in Coralville daily.
Free, at-home COVID-19 testing kids are available for Cedar Rapids school staff to take home and self-administer.
With these kits, available through Test Iowa, Iowans can collect their own saliva and mail the sample directly to the State Hygienic Lab for testing. Results will be emailed to participants within 24 hours after samples are received by the state lab.
The district is working with the Iowa Department of Education to make the Test Iowa kits available to students, as well.
Demand for the kits as more Iowans test for COVID-19 or are symptomatic is greater than supply, Bush said.
School nurses cannot administer COVID-19 tests because they are not certified diagnosticians, Bush said.
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