CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – All of Iowa has seen a 14-day average positivity rate in tests for the novel coronavirus above the federal government’s definition for at least moderate transmission of the virus, with the vast majority of counties above state guidelines for the potential for virtual learning waivers to be granted to local schools.
According to data on the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website on Sunday afternoon, the 14-day average positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is at or above 20% in 47 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The positivity rate is at or above 15% in an additional 34 counties. The rest of the state’s counties are above 10% for two-week average positivity, except for Ringgold County at 8.8%. The White House Coronavirus Task Force defines a 10% positivity rate as indicative of high rates of transmission of the virus.
The 15% and 20% thresholds are important in Iowa for determining the eligibility of school districts to request a period of online-only learning from state officials, according to rules set by Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education. Those state that a district can apply for a waiver to move instruction online for a two week period if the county’s positivity rate is above 15% along with an absentee rate of 10% for the student population. If a county’s absentee rate is above 20%, a district can apply for a waiver without needing to meet an absentee rate threshold.
The switch to a temporary period of virtual learning is not automatic when these thresholds are met. School districts must get state approval first, which some have applied for in the 2020-2021 school year. The Anamosa Community School District is currently in the middle of a virtual learning period after having a waiver approved by the state.
The Waterloo Community School District recently said that they had no current plans to move to a period of online-only classes, despite high positivity rates in Black Hawk County. The district said that it was monitoring the situation, but claimed that person-to-person spread of COVID-19 was not occurring in the district’s buildings.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force’s most recent weekly report, obtained by ABC News, said that action was needed in the state to bring the widespread transmission of the virus under control.
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