CLIVE, Iowa – West Des Moines Community Schools sent an email to some parents Wednesday, warning that their child’s entire grade may have been exposed to COVID-19. The parents of the child who did test positive wanted to get the word out to kids in the class, but the school district says that isn’t allowed.
When Michael and Stacey Ramirez sent their 6-year-old son Adam to school, they were hopeful he would stay healthy.
“It’s very frustrating that we were put in this situation and no more than two weeks into school, the ultimate happens and he catches COVID,” Michael Ramirez said.
A positive COVID-19 test changed everything, and shined a light on how school districts are notifying parents about exposure: emails to grade levels, but not classrooms.
“These parents, especially in the direct classroom, need to know,” Ramirez said, “and they’re just standing behind rules that don’t apply.”
A spokesperson with West Des Moines Community Schools says they’re following federal requirements from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, state guidance that doesn’t allow districts to independently contact trace, as well as legislation signed by Gov Reynolds which prevents them from following protocols that were in place last year.
“That’s kind of what you’re seeing with all the districts is they’re feeling restricted by this House File  and so that the change needs to happen all the way from the top to the bottom,” Ramirez.
Limitations in district decision-making that’s causing concern and frustration among parents.
“The obvious fact is that there’s at least one other child in that classroom walking around with COVID, because somehow our son got it,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez says the school nurse told them their son could go back to school next week. That’s sooner than guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health that says COVID-19 positive students can go back to school 10 days after symptoms first appeared.