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School district taking it day-to-day regarding move to full remote learning

By James Grob,

The Charles City School district continues to follow the board-approved COVID decision-making matrix to determine whether to educate students in-person, hybrid, or virtual.

The school district received an official waiver Monday from the Iowa Department of Education to go to full remote learning whenever it chooses, if necessary.

“We have applied and are approved by the Iowa Department of Education to go into virtual learning if we need to make a shift,” the district stated. “This is a proactive step, and we will keep you informed if we plan to exercise this option.”

The waiver is good for two weeks of full-time remote learning, and the district can adjust the start date as needed. The district stated that the decision is “day-to-day.”

According to a release from the district, as of Wednesday night this week, Floyd County has a positivity rate more than 22%, and the school absenteeism rate is around 5.6%. Those numbers allow the district to continue in the current hybrid learning model.

The district stated that if teachers continue to get sick or food service staff become ill or quarantined, the district may have to transition quickly to a virtual model.

As of Thursday afternoon, the district was reporting 13 total positive cases of COVID-19 and 138 individuals in quarantine. The district-wide student absentee rate was 4.58% on Tuesday, 5.68% on Wednesday and 6.34% on Thursday.

Charles City Superintendent Mike Fisher has said he hopes to remain in hybrid learning until at least Thanksgiving. He said the district is using this week to prepare students and teachers for the possibility of going to remote learning after Thanksgiving.

“We are not optimistic that it will be plausible to have our schools open after Thanksgiving,” Fisher said last week.

In addition to their regular lessons, students this week are learning how to get online and learn from home. The district stated it was preparing students to go virtual in the event conditions in the county don’t improve.

At a special meeting last Friday, the Charles City School District Board of Education approved the submission of the waiver request, to only be used if the matrix conditions are met or the district no longer has adequate staff to safely operate.

A proclamation signed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday regarding increased COVID-19 mitigation included some changes in school district activities across Iowa.

As of this week, all middle school and all club sports events are canceled until Dec. 10, all spectators at high school events over 2 years old must wear masks and maintain 6 feet of distance from other spectators, and only two spectators are permitted for each student-athlete. The athletes themselves can be closer than 6 feet and are not required to wear masks.

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