Is it COVID or something else?


  • Many illnesses present with the same symptoms as COVID-19
  • If your student presents with any high-risk symptom, they will be sent home
  • If your student presents with two or more low-risk symptoms, they will be sent home
  • Students can return once they are fever free without medication for 24 hours and their symptoms are improving
  • If the student does not have a fever, their symptoms must be improving prior to returning
  • It’s your choice if you get a COVID-19 test, if you are concerned about COVID-19 please call your healthcare provider
  • Please see more detailed information below

This past month we were able to see our Return to Learn plan put to work. Students have been doing a phenomenal job of wearing their face coverings, hand washing, and cleaning!

Since school started several questions have been asked about how typical cold or allergy symptoms would be handled. We quickly came to the conclusion that parents need more guidance as to how this year will look. This time of year is prime allergy season. Students with viruses, bacteria, and illness are common. Kids are still going to have their typical hay fever, allergies, coughs, sore throats, headaches, and more; however, COVID- 19 changes the way we, as a school and community, have to look at those ailments. Guidance has been provided to schools all over the country by the CDC, Public Health, and the Department of Education; school health departments and administration all over the country are working diligently to follow these guidelines. Parents were provided a document at Back to School conferences and this is the document Charles City Schools are following when dealing with a sick student or staff member.

During a “typical” year, nurses can evaluate a child and have a good idea through assessment if it is allergies, strep throat, stomach bug, etc. Conversely, this school year due to COVID 19, school nurses cannot determine by assessment alone that those symptoms are “just typical” or “just allergies.” The evaluation tool recommended by the Department of Ed has split symptoms into high and low-risk categories. It states that a high-risk symptom is considered a newly developed cough, shortness of breath, or loss of taste or smell. Low-risk symptoms include a fever of 100.4 or higher, chills, headache, muscle/body aches, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. All of the symptoms listed overlap with many common ailments that can typically be dealt with at home, but we are bound to follow the guidance the state of Iowa has provided. 

How might this look different for you as a parent or guardian?

If your student is sent to the school nurse with one of the high-risk symptoms or two or more low-risk symptoms, state guidelines are directing the school to notify parents and have that child sent home. At this point, it is recommended you contact your healthcare provider to determine if your child needs to be examined and/or tested for COVID-19.

Whether or not your student visits a healthcare provider or if an alternative diagnosis is found, (e.g. strep throat, allergies, common cold) the student can follow the school illness policy. The school’s policy states that a student may return 24 hours after starting antibiotics if needed and symptoms should be improved. The student should be fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.=

If your student tests positive for COVID-19, the student must isolate for 10 days as directed by the Floyd County Public Health. The county public health department will notify you if your student tests positive and isolation is warranted. Day zero starts with symptom onset OR if asymptomatic, day zero starts when Floyd County Public Health determines day zero to begin. Your student may return after 10 days as long as there has been no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine and symptoms have improved.

If your student is notified by Floyd County Public Health as being in close contact with a person who tests positive to COVID-19, the student must then quarantine for 14 days. Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet for 15 consecutive minutes or longer.

We realize each situation is unique and you will have questions. Please do not hesitate to call the school for guidance. Public Health has been very active in helping us navigate these uncharted waters and will continue to assist us.

We ask for your patience moving forward and if your child is sick, please keep them home. Again, we realize all of the “typical” illnesses are still out there and not everything is COVID-19, but COVID-19 can present itself as any of the listed symptoms above, so we will continue to follow state guidance and be extra diligent with any sign or symptom connected with COVID-19.

Tags: schools, high risk, covid, charles city, low risk

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