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INDEPENDENCE – According to emails that went out Thursday night and Friday afternoon addressed to parents and community members from Superintendent Russell Reiter, additional individuals at the Independence Community School District [ICSD] have tested positive for COVID-19.

Reiter wrote, “I am writing to update you with some important information, and to reassure you that the Independence CSD continues to take every step possible to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.”

The individuals who have most recently tested positive are staff members at ECC/East Elementary and one person at the junior/senior high school. All are at home recovering.

“The district is working with the Iowa Department of Public Health and Buchanan County [Public] Health. Anyone who was considered ‘in close contact’…will be contacted,” Reiter continued.

The September 10 announcement related to cases at ECC/East Elementary. The September 11 letter refers to one individual at the junior/senior high. These communications follow similar correspondence that went out on September 5 and September 8 about positive coronavirus cases reported at the junior/senior high school and ECC/East Elementary, respectively.

Contact Tracing

As reported in the September 9 issue of the Bulletin Journal, Buchanan County Public Health (BCPH) is responsible for contact tracing in cases of COVID-19 at the local schools.

“If the case is a student or staff at one of the Buchanan County schools, Buchanan County Public Health works directly with the schools to identify any close contacts in the school setting,” said Tai Burkhart, BCPH director.

She also reminded the public that close contacts need to quarantine in their home away from as many people as possible for 14 days after their date of exposure, and contact their health care provider to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19.

COVID-19 Dashboard

In the September 10 letter, Reiter talked about the creation of a COVID-19 Dashboard.

“I would also like to inform you the district has developed a COVID-19 Dashboard with information pertaining to each of the buildings for both students and staff. It will be operational on Friday morning, September 11, on the district website. We plan to share as much information as possible, while protecting the privacy of those affected,” Reiter’s letter noted.

To find the dashboard, the latest communication directs the public to log on to the district website and look for a yellow button.

Necessary Precautions

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, remember the following guidelines:

- Stay home when you are ill

- Wash your hands often

- Maintain social distancing

- Wear a mask

Reiter reiterated in his September 10 letter, “Our greatest priority is the safety of our students, staff, and families. Please continue to take necessary precautions to protect yourself and those around you.”