Decorah Community School District is committed to providing transparent, accurate data regarding cases of isolation and/or quarantining related to COVID-19 while maintaining the confidentiality of students and staff. On September 18, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Education released guidance to school districts and local public health agencies detailing communication of COVID-19 related data.
Of approximately 290 Staff – Eight (8) positive COVID-19 – Eight (8) recovered
Of approximately 1575 On-site students – Twenty-one (21) positive COVID-19 – Fifteen (15) recovered
No Learning Model Change at This Time
Decorah CSD will not make a change to their learning model at this time; full on-site learning at all buildings will occur next week. Staff will continue daily monitoring of COVID-19 data and thorough contact tracing of all instances of exposure.
Superintendent Mark Lane commented, “While we monitor the Winneshiek County 14-day positivity rate, we give our greatest attention to student and staff absenteeism. We are pleased with the rates we have been able to maintain over the past several weeks. We believe our schools are among the safest places for our students to be each day.”
Lane continued, “Many schools have been forced to make learning model changes because of inadequate staffing levels. I have talked recently with superintendents in districts where buildings are experiencing employee quarantining and isolation rates between 25% to 35%. This is not our experience. As the graph below shows, we have never had a day with more than seven employees quarantining or isolating. It has been over three weeks since we have had a staff member test positive for COVID-19, and each staff member who has tested positive has recovered and returned to work.”
“We know circumstances can change quickly, Lane added. “We are prepared to make a change in a learning model for a classroom, grade level, building, or for the entire district. We have asked our staff to be planful and prepared two weeks out in case of the need to pivot quickly. It is critical that we continue to do the things that have gotten us to this point. We have required face coverings since our first day of school, and we know from our experience consistent face mask use makes a difference. Staff and families have been honest and open with our nurses and are staying home when they are sick; we need everyone to remain committed to this practice.”
“We can do more to limit our interactions with other people away from school. I know these are hard sacrifices to make, but in order to maintain what we are experiencing in our schools and to reduce the spread in our community, everyone needs to do their part.”
Lane concluded, “Next week, I will begin sharing daily COVID-19 quarantine/isolation data. I know state and county rates are causing greater levels of concern about what is happening in our schools and our learning model. We are committed to transparency and honesty, and up to this point sharing our data each Friday has felt appropriate.”
Next week the District will send a short message with a table similar to what is shared above each afternoon, and then the superintendent will send his regular Message to Families on Friday.