December 11, 2020

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.

The Iowa Department of Public Health guidance can be found here.

COVID Data 12 11 20

Summary Positive COVID-19 

  • Of approximately 290 Staff – Eighteen (18) positive COVID-19, Seventeen (17) recovered
  • Of approximately 1575 On-site students – Forty-four (44) positive COVID-19, Thirty-three (33) recovered

County and District Trend Data

Superintendent Mark Lane said, “Throughout the year, we have monitored our COVID-19 related data closely, and this week was unique in comparison to others. We were pleased to see lower numbers of staff and students quarantining compared to the weeks leading into Thanksgiving break. We are concerned, however, to see that we have the highest number of active COVID-19 cases among our student body at any point this year. This is a reminder that our circumstances require perseverance and daily diligence to the actions that reduce our risk of exposure. We will continue to watch our county and district data closely.”

The graphs below reflect county and district data taken each Tuesday and Thursday since school began.

Winn County and DCSD COVID 12 11 20

Student Breakfast and Lunch December 21 and 22

The DCSD Nutrition Services Department will make non-perishable breakfast and lunch kits available to students for the two upcoming remote learning days, Monday and Tuesday, December 21 and 22. These non-perishable meals will be sent home with students Friday, December 18.  A link was emailed to households with directions on how to submit orders.

Emergency Cancellation Remote Learning Plan

Several weeks ago, the District asked for feedback about the use of remote learning during emergency school cancellation days. This is a new option made available to Iowa schools during the last legislative session. The graph below captures the data collected in the survey.

Survey remote learning cancellation days

Monday evening, Superintendent Lane will recommend the DCSD Board of Directors approve the use of remote learning for emergency school cancellation days beginning with the third cancellation event. This model aligns with past district practice; DCSD has always built two cancellation days into the calendar. In the past, the first two emergency closure days were not made up at the end of the school year.

Additionally, with the transition to an hours-based instructional calendar, about 30 hours beyond the 1080 hours required by law are built into the calendar. If the District needs to cancel school twice, additional flexibility with instructional hours will exist to ensure compliance with the law.

In Closing

Lane shared in his weekly Message to Families, “I have sat with my thoughts and feelings since Governor Reynolds’ press conference Wednesday, and I feel it is important to share what continues to sit with me 48 hours later. I was disappointed and angered by what seemed to be an attempt to shame and guilt Iowa educators.”

“I know thousands of Iowa students have not been in our schools as they normally would so far this school year. Decorah students have spent 17 days engaged in remote learning so far this year. We have two more remote days scheduled for December 21 and 22, and I expect there may be circumstances that cause me to recommend remote learning at points in the future.”

“I also know Iowa educators desperately want our students in school. I previously worked in three of the districts I believe Governor Reynolds was targeting with her comments: West Des Moines, Waukee, and Urbandale. I have many colleagues in those districts, and I know face-to-face learning every day would be their preferred learning model.”

“As I have written many times, our schools don’t exist in a vacuum. We are interdependently linked with every aspect of the communities we serve. I am proud of the work I have watched Iowa school boards, superintendents, administrators, principals, teachers, and support services staff do for the past eight months. Those districts that are engaged in on-site learning are doing what they believe is right in their local context. Those districts that are engaged in remote learning are doing what they believe is right in their local context. Additionally, every unique learning model happening across our state has been approved by the Iowa Department of Education and meets the criteria put upon us by the Iowa Legislature and Governor Reynolds.”

“It is easy to cast blame, shame, and guilt. It is harder to provide the system management that actually creates the conditions for what you want to occur. We will continue to focus on what is within our control, and we will strive to create the conditions for what we hope to come to reality.”