Meskwaki Schools go virtual as Tama Co. COVID numbers rise

Area schools experiencing increasing illness

School officials at the Meskwaki Settlement School announced this week that due to the rapid increase of COVID-19 positivity rates, class instruction would be shifting to virtual-only for the next week and a half. The tentative return to in-person learning is set for Jan. 24. -- News Chronicle File Photo

Leaders at Meskwaki Settlement School met the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 12, and made the decision to switch to virtual instruction beginning Thursday, Jan. 13, continuing through the following week due to increasing COVID-19 infections among the student body.

Superintendent Steve Hanson, via a Facebook posting on Wednesday, said the decision was made due to “a spike in the number of students testing positive for COVID-19, and the number of students exposed and assigned to quarantine.”

The Meskwaki Settlement School plans to return to in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 24.

The district previously switched to virtual Zoom instruction in October 2021 for two weeks and plans to use the same schedule and procedures during this current round of virtual schooling.

Information regarding virtual instruction is available on both the school’s website and its Facebook page. Attendance will be taken for every class.

Grab and go meals will be available for students during the virtual period. Meal distribution is set to take place this Thursday and next week Tuesday, Jan. 18 at the elementary school entrance from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. both days.

Attendance at Meskwaki home games this week will be limited to five visitors per player, according to the school’s Facebook posting. A code must be obtained from a Meskwaki player in order to purchase tickets online. Games will also be livestreamed.

“During this period of virtual instruction, we ask you to keep students safe by limiting your activities outside the home and wearing masks when you go to an indoor space away from home,” Hanson said via a school Facebook posting. “Please do all you can to stop or slow the spread of this virus.”

COVID-19 in Tama County

On the same day Meskwaki Settlement School announced it was moving to virtual instruction, Tama County Public Health (TCPH) announced cases are on the rise across the county.

“We are aware of three long term care outbreaks in Tama County,” TCPH said in a Facebook posting. “Please take steps to protect our vulnerable populations. Mask, stay home when sick, get vaccinated, and avoid large gatherings.”

On Thursday, Jan. 13, Tama County’s level of COVID-19 transmission was labeled as “high” by TCPH with a seven-day positivity rate of 30.9 percent.

There had been 51 new positive test results in the past 24 hours as of Wednesday.

Illness appears to be on the rise generally among the school aged population in Iowa this week.

South Tama Schools reported in each of its three buildings double-digit active cases with students and staff combined as of Jan. 13.

STC Elementary: 6-10 active cases

STC Middle School: 11-15 active cases

STC High School: 20-25 active cases

On Tuesday, Jan. 11, the Union Community School District in northeast Tama County announced both its away high school basketball games and wrestling meet – scheduled to take place in New Hampton – were canceled.

“Between injuries and illness, wrestling had too many out to travel,” Union Athletic Director Michael Bruns told the North Tama Telegraph in a text message.

The Union girls and boys basketball teams had been scheduled to travel to Ackley on Tuesday evening. Bruns said the AGWSR school district contacted Union and requested a change of date due to illness and injuries on their part.

For the week ending Jan. 1, 2022, the Iowa Dept. of Public Health via its Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network reported the overall influenza activity in the state to be “moderate” with the proportion of outpatient visits due to Influenza-like Illness (ILI) at 4.20 percent which is above the regional baseline of 1.7 percent.

For the 2021-2022 flu season, the percent of Iowans receiving the flu vaccine sits at 30.2 percent, while the rate of full vaccination against COVID-19 in Tama County sits at 58 percent.

Children are as likely to be infected with COVID-19 as adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, children can get very sick from COVID-19, can experience both short and long-term health complications from COVID-19, and can spread COVID-19 to others at home and at school.

Tama County Public Health frequently holds COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Everyone aged five years and older is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19 per the CDC. Call TCPH for an appointment or for more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine at 641-484-4788.