23 Alburnett students exposed to COVID-19 at football game

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 6:03 PM CDT
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ALBURNETT, Iowa (KCRG) - Alburnett Schools said it is reviewing its policies with 23 students now isolating at home after getting exposed in the stands at Friday’s football game to COVID-19.

Video shows that the student section at Friday’s game was packed tight with no masks in sight. Dani Trimblem Alburnett Community Schools Superintendent, said its guidelines recommend masks but do not require them.

“The fan guidelines really put that responsibility on individuals to take personal responsibility for following public health and district guidelines,” Trimble said.

Trimble said district staff was present at Friday’s game to provide what she called “normal supervision,” but enforcing COVID-19 safety recommendations is difficult since they aren’t required. Despite this exposure, The Iowa High School Athletic Association argued high school sports seasons have been relatively safe and not the source of spreading the virus.

“One of the concerns we had right out of the gate in June and July, the activities themselves were not responsible for the spread of COVID. We had no reported cases spread among on the field and team activities, so it was coming from other places, which is usually off the field and it’s just a place where we can’t force as much, outside the lines,” Chris Cuellar, communications director for IHSAA, said.

The IHSAA said guidance for fans varies district-to-district, with no universal requirements. KCRG-TV9 reviewed video from this past Friday’s games and found the same thing, some schools stands were spaced out with most wearing masks. Others were crowded together with few masks visible.

Melanie Wellington, Assistant Hospital Epidemiologist at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, recommended masks, social distancing, or decreased capacity at sporting events, even when held outdoors where the likelihood of transmission is lower.

“When you are in a big group of people, it doesn’t matter whether you are inside or outside,” Wellington said.

The state of Iowa introduced new mask recommendations last week, easing the need to quarantine if people in question both wore masks. Now, with 23 students exposed, Trimble said the district will review its policies but sees student fans as an essential part of high school life.

“School is an experience. Being part of athletic teams and events are part of a school experience and we are just at a point right now, where we need to reevaluate that and see if we want to make a change in our return to learn plan to address this, but I think it’s just difficult to quantify that and say is it worth it in totality if the experience,” Trimble said.

Trimble said the district’s school board is expected to review mask policy in an upcoming special meeting.

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