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Fisher urges community to help slow local spread of COVID

By James Grob,

Charles City Superintendent of Schools Mike Fisher had a message for the community at Monday’s meeting of the Charles City School District Board of Directors.

“We are begging and asking the community to make wise decisions,” he said. “Social distance, avoid large gatherings, wear face coverings.”

Fisher said the positivity rate for COVID-19 testing in Floyd County was 16% on Monday, and levels like that make it difficult for the school to function.

“We want to keep our schools open, and it’s becoming more and more challenging,” he said. “We’ve got to really do our best as a community to mitigate this surge and push down the curve again.”

At a special meeting on Nov. 5, the board approved transitioning grades 7-12 to hybrid learning through Thanksgiving break due to COVID-19 positivity rates in Floyd County.

At that meeting, Fisher told the board that the staff absence rate that day was 14.5% and 19 school district employees were on COVID-19 leave, either because they tested positive or because they were in quarantine.

Because of that staff reduction, along with a big increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the community, the school board unanimously agreed with Fisher’s recommendation to return to the hybrid plan, with the only exception being 6th-graders, who will remain in full-time on-site learning.

At the meeting Monday, board member Scott Dight said that more than one-third of the hospital beds at MercyOne in Mason City are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

“I’m seeing and hearing reports similar to that all across the state,” Dight said. “Hospitals and other health care facilities are soon going to be overwhelmed, so we need to wear our masks, people.”

In related business Monday, Fisher informed the board that the Senior Leadership Team is working on amending the matrix in order to provide guidelines for safe reopening based on community positivity rate and student absence rates.

Fisher said that Floyd County Public Health is deeply involved in the situation and recommendations. The board will consider action at a future meeting.

In other action Monday, the board approved the early retirement applications and resignations for fiscal year 2021 from middle school teacher Donna Forsyth, high school teacher Ann Haines and director of finance Terri O’Brien. The deadline for option 1 retirements for 2021 was Nov. 1. By policy, the early retirement benefit equals 50% of the retiree’s wages, excluding TSS and extra curricular contracts. The employee early retirement policy was approved in June of 2020.

In other business Monday, the board:

— Authorized the administration to submit requests to the School Budget Review Committee in the amount of $100,649.60 for modified supplemental amount for increasing enrollment in the fall 2020 and $10,915.52 for modified supplemental amount for providing an English language learner program for students who have exceeded five years of weighted funding in the fall 2020.

— Approved the equipment agreement with Marco and the monthly payment of $16,743.07 for the audio visual equipment installed K-12.

— Approved the resignations of Darren Bohlen, head football coach and middle school boys track coach, Kelsey Crooks, assistant varsity girls basketball coach and Anthony Slinger, assistant varsity bowling coach, effective Nov. 9.

— Approved the appointment of Noah Krabbe, seventh-grade boys basketball coach, at a salary of $2675, effective Nov. 9.

— Approved the application to the School Budget Review committee in the amount of $5,754.01 for special education administrative costs associated with the River Hills Consortium program for the 2021-22 school year.

— Approved the application to the School Budget Review committee in the amount of $6,320.48 for special education administrative costs associated with the LIED Center Consortium program for the 2021-22 school year.

— Approved the Transition Alliance Program (TAP) contract amendment for the period of Oct.2019 through Sept. 2020 increasing the overall budget $16,933.67.

— Heard presentations from Joe Taylor and Tom Harskamp, middle school principals, regarding the CCMS 2020 vision.

— Heard a presentation from April Hanson, technology director, regarding the technology security assessment.

— Heard a School Board Equity Learning Presentation from board member Scott Dight. The presentation was the fourth of a series of professional development sessions on ableism.