School responds to additional COVID cases

Andrew Shaw

North Iowa Community School cancelled JV athletic activities this week, as additional cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the district.

Activities Director Meggon Jacobs made the announcement on Sunday that the JV football and volleyball teams would not hold practices or games this week, but varsity and middle school sports would go forward. However on Monday, the school announced that Tuesday’s varsity volleyball game at Belmond would be postponed. As of Monday, the middle school volleyball game on Thursday at Swea City and the varsity football game at AGWSR on Friday were still on schedule.

This is the second full week of the school year at North Iowa, and Superintendent Joe Erickson says things are going mostly as planned. He says they’ve made a few changes to pick up and drop off times at the school, to help people spread out a little bit more.

Erickson says it’s definitely been a transition to get students used to wearing masks, but they’re getting better at understanding the reasons for wearing them.

“Everybody wants to be back,” said Erickson. He says when students are asked to wear masks, they understand that’s a step they need to take to be able to be back at school.

While masks aren’t always required at school, he says many elementary students are choosing to wear them almost the entire day. He says parents prepared their students for what that would be like. The school is following CDC guidelines, which call for students to wear masks if they can’t be spaced at least three feet apart.

North Iowa is starting the year off with remote learning each Wednesday, and Erickson says those days are similar to the online learning that happened at school this spring. About 10% of students at North Iowa are currently doing remote learning, and with additional COVID-19 cases popping up in the district, Erickson says that’s probably as low as that number will get. He says it’s helpful for teachers to have Wednesdays as a time when they can check in with students who are not coming to school in person.

Erickson says the school continues to work with the Iowa Dept. of Public Health and Winnebago County Public Health as they conduct contact tracing for positive COVID-19 cases. At this point, North Iowa is able to continue with in-person learning, but Erickson says a large enough outbreak could cause them to shut down school for a day or two to figure things out. The school has plans in place in the event they need to move to a hybrid learning model, with students spending less time in school, or an entirely online model.

Erickson says the processes and mitigation efforts they have in place at North Iowa enable them to provide a learning environment while reducing the risk of spreading illness.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Winnebago County was 207 as of Monday, Sept. 14, with 28 new cases being reported since Tuesday, Sept. 8. Of those cases, 115 were classified as recovered, with 92 active cases in the county. Kossuth County had 168 total cases as of Monday, with 105 recovered and 63 active cases.



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