Dear Families and Staff,

As we welcome students back to our schools in upcoming days, we will begin the third consecutive school year that has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, as was reported in the Telegraph Herald, we continue to see COVID-19 cases in Dubuque county increase at a rate that is concerning to our area’s public health officials and infectious disease experts.

The number of positive cases in Dubuque County has increased over the past several weeks, primarily made up of the more highly contagious Delta variant. Local experts warn that the data indicates that our community may be on track to see the same significant impact that has been seen in the other parts of the United States.

At the same time, there is some data that suggests that the impact of the Delta variant may not be long lasting and can see a reasonably quick decline after hitting its peak – so acting now to prevent its spike may be our key to having as little disruption to school operations as possible.

To help communicate the impact of COVID-19 in our schools, we will again have a COVID-19 dashboard to help families make informed decisions. We are currently working on the timing of the dashboard as we learn how and when data will be reported to us from the county/state, but expect it to be live sometime next week.

As we see our area data rise, we look back to the success of our COVID-19 mitigations efforts last year, which included the wearing of masks in school.

While by Iowa law masks cannot be required at school, I encourage families and staff to consider wearing a mask indoors to begin the school year in order to prevent the spread that we anticipate may be on the horizon based on the data.

While mask recommendations have changed over time, and will continue to change, based on current Dubuque data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Dubuque County Board of Health all currently recommend masking indoors in a school environment.

Our goal in this request is simple – to work together to keep students and staff in school.

Regardless of your choice or your family’s choice to wear a mask or not, we respect that choice and will support each of our students, families and staff in the choices they make.

As always, we will continue to closely monitor the situation and will adjust accordingly. Know that the health and safety of our students and staff is our priority and we are thankful for your support as we begin the school year.

Stan Rheingans
Superintendent of Schools