Eldora Children's Center will be shut down for two weeks after one staff member tested positive for COVID-19 and other employees await their results.
According to a letter sent to parents by Eldora Children's Center Director Kendra Kendall on Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Human Services, which oversees child care facilities in the state, and the Iowa Department of Public Health have mandated the center be closed until Nov. 16.
Kendall said thus far she is not aware of any children who attend Eldora Children's Center testing positive for COVID-19.
The Eldora Children's Center Board of Directors will meet on Thursday to discuss possible policy changes. Currently, masks are optional at the center.
"We feel we've been putting many policies in place to help (stop) this from happening," Kendall said. "The one policy we would look at changing for sure is the mask policy."
Kendall said the policy change will most likely be to mandate masks for all of the center's 65 children, ages 2 and up, and the 13 staff members. She said no one who isn't a student or staff member - including parents - is allowed into the building, but if for some reason outsiders needed to come inside they would also be required to wear a mask.
Hardin County Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents, who also serves on ECC's Board of Directors and has children who attend the center, said she's equally concerned about the situation regardless how she looks at it.
"Overall, I've been pretty pleased with how everything has gone for us," Reents said. "We shut down early on (when the pandemic started) because we had a hard time getting supplies to effectively clean our building."
DHS is considering the situation an outbreak, although it doesn't meet the official criteria of three or more positive COVID-19 tests in staff or children that live in separate households within a 14-day period.
According to the letter sent to parents, the outbreak designation has been given because, "Over the weekend we had one staff member become symptomatic and two who were directly exposed to positive cases. As we have staff members throughout three or more different households who have become of concern DHS is considering this an outbreak."
Two long-term care facilities in Hardin County are also experiencing outbreaks. According to the Iowa coronavirus website, 58 people at Hubbard Care Center have tested positive with four recoveries. Grand Jivanté in Ackley has reported nine cases between residents and staff as of Tuesday afternoon.
Reents and Kendall each mentioned the rising rate of positive cases in Hardin County over the last month. The number of cases has jumped from 323 on Oct. 1 to 577 as of noon on Tuesday.
"We do feel that as long as we have been open we've been handling it to the best of our ability and with the rising cases in the county and the area it was something that was bound to happen," Kendall said.