County positivity rate opens online school options

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Dickinson County's rate of positive COVID-19 test results was up by more than 4 percent as of Friday, after a slight dip the previous week. Local health officials said the county's rate of positivity was at 15.9 percent going into the weekend it was listed as 11.8 percent Oct. 23 and 12.5 percent a week before that.

Iowa school districts may request half of their learning be done remotely for up to 14 days if and when a community's positivity rate exceeds 15 percent over a rolling two-week period the requests can also be made if more than 10 percent of district absences over a five-day period are related to the virus. The Iowa Department of Education may also allow schools to conduct their entire curriculum online if the rate rises above 20 percent, which the department labeled substantial uncontrolled community transmission. The Okoboji School District specifically noted on its COVID-19 dashboard that crossing the 15 percent mark may prompt further restrictions on spectators at school events or even a pause on extracurricular activities.

Okoboji Schools said only about 2 percent of its student population were in isolation or quarantine because of exposure to the virus as of Friday. The district, which is reporting its statistics in ranges of five to protect privacy rights, has listed between one and five active cases of the virus in the school since reporting began Sept. 25. Friday's numbers showed between 20 and 25 Okoboji students and staff were isolating or quarantining up by a range of five from the previous week, but down from an Oct. 9 high of between 30 and 35. The county's positivity rate was listed at 12.6 percent during the school's peak isolation.

The Harris-Lake Park School District has yet to report a single positive case between its two buildings, but nine students and one teacher were either in quarantine or using online learning as of Friday. The district, which serves about 350 students, has seen some 37 students use the remote services so far this year. H-LP High School Principal Greg Hiemstra previously told the school board about 10 students had chosen to learn online permanently this school year.

Officials with Spirit Lake Schools have chosen to report COVID-19 updates at approximate three-week intervals. The district's Oct. 22 update showed seven active cases six students and one staff member along with 31 students in quarantine. The district said each of those quarantines was brought on by exposure to positive cases of COVID-19 outside of the school day.

Active cases countywide jumped from 84 on Oct. 23 to 126 as of Oct. 30, brining the total confirmed cases in Dickinson County to 808 since the first case was recorded March 16 853 cases by the state coronavirus website's count. The local statistics show 672 county residents have recovered from the virus 593 according to the state website and one was listed as being hospitalized. Local officials listed one additional death related to the virus this past week, bringing the local death total to 10.

The county's 18-40 population continues to make up the majority of local confirmed cases of COVID-19. That demographic accounted for about 37 percent of the 800-plus cases in Friday's report, but it has actually decreased by 1 to 2 percent each week since at least early September. Conversely, the 41-60 and 61-80 range have both seen single percent increases nearly every week in that same time frame.

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