Solon Community School District sees 67 positive cases in one week, parents share mixed reactions

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:12 PM CDT
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SOLON, Iowa (KCRG) - School leaders in Solon have added safety measures after seeing a big uptick in positive COVID-19 cases.

From September 19 through 26, the district reported 67 new cases, which is about 5% of the district’s enrollment. Solon Superintendent Davis Eidahl says they record cases every week and release them on Mondays. Since school started on August 23, he says they hadn’t seen more than 9 positive cases in a single week until this last week.

With this big and sudden uptick, the nurses within the district say one way they plan to slow the spread is by requiring quarantining within a household.

“If one child in the household tests positive, if there are other children in the house, those children stay home 5 to 7 days until they can get a negative test, or a note from their doctor saying they’re alright to come back,” Eidahl said.

Some parents in the school district think the rapid increase in cases is a direct result of not requiring masks for students or staff.

“That’s in a population of about 1,500 students. And when you compare it to a system like Iowa City where they are requiring masks, right now I believe they have 36 active cases in a school system that’s 9 times the size of Solon,” Erika Billerbeck, a school district parent, said.

Billerbeck said, at the very least, she wants better communication from the school.

“I won’t find out until Monday evening what the statistics were for the previous week,” Billerbeck said. “So as a parent trying to make a decision day-to-day, we’re not receiving that information to make a good choice for our kids.”

Other parents, like Cassie Rochholz, say families and students should have a choice when it comes to mask-wearing.

“Parents need the option to choose what is best for their child, and no child fits squarely into a box, no child is the same as one another,” Rochholz said.

Another mother, Natalie Burk, comes from a different perspective. It’s one that she lives with every day with her second youngest child.

“Our 4-year-old daughter has a neurological speech disorder, it’s called childhood apraxia of speech,” Burk said.

Burk said it’s difficult for her daughter to verbally communicate with others. She’s noticed a major difference in her daughter’s development this year versus last year when she and her classmates had to wear masks.

“She was very closed off last year. And to see her gain her confidence back is just amazing to see.”

For now, Eidhal has added mandatory quarantine within households to their safety measures to try to slow the sudden spread. But they don’t have any current plans to add a mask mandate.

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