The Iowa Department of Public Health changed their recommended quarantine guidelines in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic on Sept. 29.
Simpson is no longer forcing anyone in close contact with a positive case while wearing a mask to quarantine, following the recommendations.
Since the start of the 2020-21 school year, students and faculty that are within six-feet for 15 minutes of an individual that tests positive for COVID-19 have been forced to quarantine for 14 days, even with both people wearing masks.
The changes include in class, meetings and clubs. However, students still have the option to quarantine if they feel the need.
The new rules do not include tables at dining centers, in residential rooms, or in athletic settings.
The reason why for residential settings and at the dining centers is because masks are not required in either of those settings, resulting in a higher transmission rate. However, in athletic settings, quarantine is still required even with masks in practice or competition.
“Even if the athletes are wearing a mask, they are still engaging in a higher risk activity,” said Katie Lee, member of the Crisis Management Team at Simpson. “They are breathing heavier, they are in close contact with one another.”
Sophomore Logan Rentfrew was in a seven-player pod at soccer practice that had a positive case, Rentfrew was forced to quarantine despite being masked.
“The fact that I have to get sent home even if I test negative just doesn’t make sense to me,” Rentfrew said.
The IDPH had three reasons to change their recommendations, a study in Iowa that compared cases with masks to no masks, a study in Missouri where a hairstylist tested positive but all of her 150 patients tested negative while both parties were wearing masks and Nebraska and Wyoming making similar changes to their guidelines.
“They felt that they distance themselves from the CDC and develop their own guidelines on quarantine policy based on their own science,” Lee said.
In line with the IDPH study, close contact while wearing a face shield or neck gaiter still results in quarantine. This also includes the incorrect wearing of masks, such as the nose being uncovered.
Sophomore Kateilyn Curtis-Swore was forced to quarantine during the first week of classes after an individual sitting 5.6 feet behind her in the class-tested positive.
“Once I tested negative and still had to be quarantined for ten more days I was super upset because I felt fine,” Curtis-Swore said.
Under the former regulations, Curtis-Swore, along with everyone within six-feet of the positive case would’ve been forced to quarantine. The new guidelines are limiting the number of people in quarantine.
“We had a confirmed case and if we were following the old guidelines, it would have resulted in 19 people having to quarantine from the classroom alone,” Lee said.
The rules have had a significant impact on the Simpson campus experience.
As of Oct. 14 Simpson currently has 9 active cases and 38 students in quarantine, the college still encourages social distancing and mask usage at all times.