A Cedar Rapids law firm has announced it will help teachers prepare living wills and other legal health care documents for free during a pop-up event in Bever Park on Sunday, Aug. 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Teachers are invited to come to this outdoor, socially distanced event where they will receive attorney assistance in preparing a healthcare power of attorney; advance directive – also known as a living will – and HIPAA waiver,” Scott Shoemaker & Associates said in a news release. “The documents will be signed, witnessed and notarized on the spot, so teachers can leave with a complete set of legally enforceable healthcare documents to give to their healthcare provider.”
The firm said it is setting up the pop-up office because teachers “are justifiably nervous about the upcoming school year, with many worried about what will happen should they become seriously ill.”
On Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) announced that schools will be expected to offer all in-person instruction until a county has a 14-day rolling average of 15 percent or higher positivity in its COVID-19 tests and there is a 10 percent absentee rate among students, before a district can request permission to either switch to a hybrid model of instruction — which would combine both in-person and online classes — or all online instruction for 14 days.
According to World Health Organization guidance, communities should not move forward with reopening activities until they have an average positivity rate of 5 percent or lower for 14 days. (The positivity rate is the percentage of people tested who are confirmed as having COVID-19.)
Despite widespread agreement among public health experts about the WHO benchmark of 5 percent, the guidance prepared by DOE in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health qualifies a 14-day positivity rate average of 6 to 14 percent as “minimal to moderate.” A 14-day average of 15 to 20 percent is considered “substantially controlled” for school planning purposes, according to DOE. An average positivity rate over 14 days qualifies as “substantially uncontrolled” by DOE, provided there are also “concerns” about a county’s “healthcare resource capacity.”
Even when a county meets the DOE threshold for substantially uncontrolled virus spread, a school district will still have to apply to the department for permission to switch to all online instruction. DOE says it will respond to those requests “within 48 hours, not including weekends.”
The Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), which represents more than 34,000 educators in the state, called the DOE standards “outlandish.”
ISEA said “we are not just talking about numbers as we look at this decision. We are talking about children’s lives and the lives of the educators, school employees and the families who are affected.”
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 696 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. on Friday, increasing the total number of Iowans who have tested positive to 44,474.
The newly confirmed cases came from the 5,921 test results reported by IDPH between 10 a.m. on Thursday and 10 a.m. on Friday. The positivity rate for that group of results was 11.8 percent.
Among the cases reported during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. on Friday were 35 residents of Johnson County and 44 residents of Linn County. The positivity rate for the 279 tests reported for Johnson County was 12.5 percent, and Linn County’s 468 tests had a positivity rate of 9.4 percent.
A total of 1,868 Johnson County residents have now tested positive for the virus, as have 1,979 residents of Linn County.
IDPH reported another 11 deaths on Friday, bringing Iowa’s COVID-19 death toll to 865.
IDPH, considers 32,530 of the 44,747 Iowans who have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 8 to be recovered as of 10 a.m. on Friday The department considers anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to be recovered after 28 days, unless it is informed otherwise.