On Sunday, Aug. 2, the state of Iowa’s Coronavirus Dashboard (www.coronavirus.iowa.gov) reported that 7 percent of the “positive” tests for COVID-19 have come from children ages 0-17, up from 6 percent in the prior days.
While that change may not sound like much, it means a minimum of 2,972 of the positive tests for coronavirus in Iowa have now come from our youth, and it could be significantly higher than that. The state’s website only gives a percent, not the specific number of cases for Iowa youth.
I want every Iowan to know that at least 2,972 of our children have already tested positive for coronavirus — without our schools being open.
I also want every Iowan to know more about how many of our children have coronavirus, especially as Gov. Kim Reynolds pushes to open our schools for in-class, face-to-face instruction later this month.
The state needs to provide more transparency surrounding COVID-19 numbers in our state. I am concerned about sending my three daughters back to school, and I know I am not alone.
If we had more information from our state government we might be able to make a data driven decision, but without the data we are simply “rolling the dice.” We need to do better tracking what is happening to our youth.
I propose that Gov. Reynolds, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Education create a “School Coronavirus Dashboard” on the state’s Coronavirus website, similar to the state’s long-term care dashboard.
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Iowa’s students, families, staff, and the public need to know these facts and have them available to us on a regular basis:
1. How many youth have tested positive for COVID-19.
2. Once school starts with in-person learning, how many schools have a student or staff person who has tested positive.
3. Which schools have had positive tests and how many at each school.
4. How many students and staff at each school have been tested within the last two weeks for COVID-19.
5. How many students and staff are currently absent from school because of a positive test for COVID-19.
6. How many students and staff are absent at each school for health reasons even if they don’t take a COVID-19 test.
7. How many students and staff at a school have recovered from COVID-19 and are back in school.
8. How many students and staff at school have been hospitalized or die from COVID-19.
I believe this is the minimum information that Iowans need to evaluate what is happening in our schools and what adjustments need to be made to keep students, families and staff safe from the spread of COVID-19.
If you are a parent, grandparent, educator, concerned community member, you have less than three weeks before the Governor mandates face-to-face instruction. It’s time to demand transparency. Call Gov. Reynolds at 515-281-5211 and make your opinion known.
Eric Gjerde and his wife teach in the Cedar Rapids Community School District. He is a Democratic candidate in Iowa House District 67.