South Tama offers update on return-to-learn plans

A screen shot taken during Monday's South Tama County School Board meeting. The school board discussed return-to-learn plans.

A letter released by South Tama County School Superintendent Jared Smith, Friday morning gave the community an update for return-to-learn plans.

STC schools went to remote learning starting Monday, Nov. 16.

Smith told school board members Monday evening at a regular board meeting that the decision to move to remote learning was in large part due to the amount of staff that were out due to COVID-19.

At one time in the past weeks a high of 36 staff members were unable to work due to either testing positive for COVID-19 or being quarantined due to exposure to someone who had tested positive. Thirty six people is roughly 17% of the entire staff.

“We just really felt like we had to make that call to move to virtual,” Smith said.

While doing remote learning the STC Elementary continues to operate on the hybrid A/B schedule they began the year with.

The high school has opted to move all students to everyday learning. They have half of their classes (periods 1-4) one day and periods 5-8 the next day.

In the letter released by Smith on Friday, he documented three main topics including this being a data driven decision, next steps and what staff need to do.

Data driven decision

Smith said that the data point driving the possible return is staff attendance. If a large percentage of staff are able to work Smith is hopeful to return to in-person hybrid learning Monday, Nov. 30.

Things that could deter that goal is a spike in the county positivity rate or the possibility of a state-wide lockdown.

Next Steps

STC’s COVID-19 tracker, Delonda Pushetonequa will update administration Wednesday, Nov. 25 about the percentage of staff able to work Monday, Nov. 30. This information will be shared with the community according to Smith.

Pusetonequa will provide another update on staffing Saturday, Nov. 28. A formal announcement will be made Saturday, Nov. 28 about returning to hybrid in-person learning.

What staff need to do

Smith is asking staff to clearly communicate with Pushetonequa on any changes in health by using the protocols in the COVID-19 Communication Guide.

“Their clear, honest communication will play a key role in our possible return,” Smith said.

Staff are also being asked to be conscientious these next few weeks regarding social distancing and mask guidelines to limit their exposure to the virus.

The most recent numbers posted to Tama County Public Health’s Facebook page came Tuesday, Nov. 17. There have been 1503 total positive cases, 110 new cases since Nov. 12. The county 14-day positivity rate was at 22.8%