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Musical Chairs: Iowa School Districts’ New Way To Skirt COVID Rules

In Iowa, some school districts are playing a game of musical chairs in order to skirt mandatory quarantining for students exposed to COVID-19, a method health experts warn may only put students at greater risk for infection.

Since early September, Waukee and Woodbury Central Community School Districts have told teachers to get students up and walking around every 12-14 minutes in order to minimize consecutive time spent next to classmates. The 14-minute limit would allow most students to remain learning in-person even if someone in the classroom tests positive for COVID-19. The Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines state that only those exposed to the virus for 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet need to quarantine after exposure.

Educators in various Northwest Iowa schools have also been encouraged to move students around every 14 minutes, said Uniserv Director at Iowa State Education Association Amy DeGroot-Hammer.

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