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Letter from Superintendent Ron Lorenz on Temporary Suspension of Face-to-Face Instruction

November 10, 2020,

 

Dear District Stakeholder,

 

In an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the Red Oak CSD is considering a temporary suspension of face-to-face instruction, at Inman Elementary and Red Oak Jr/Sr High School, from Thursday, November 12 through Wednesday, November 25. The district has requested a waiver from the Iowa Department of Education to provide virtual or “continuous” learning for this two-week period. If this waiver is approved, the Red Oak Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, November 11, at 5:00 p.m. to vote on the proposed action.

 

As the number of COVID-19 cases have risen across the state, the Red Oak CSD has seen a corresponding increase in the number of students and staff impacted by the coronavirus. As more and more teachers have been affected, it has become increasingly difficult to meet the needs of students. We are at the point where we do not have enough substitute teachers to cover for those who are forced to be absent due to personal illness, quarantine requirements, daycare issues and other circumstances. If we do not take action, we could be faced with even greater spread that would further compromise our ability to provide both face-to-face and remote instruction.

 

Iowa Department of Education and Public Health guidelines recommend applying for temporary permission to provide online learning when positivity rates reach 15-20% and absentee rates exceed 10% among students who are expected to participate in face-to-face learning school. The current 14-day positivity rate in Montgomery County is 20.9% and the positivity rate in Page County is 33.7%. Our current student absentee rate is 15.3%. These numbers, combined with our current staffing challenges, have prompted us to take this action.

 

Please know that we do not do so lightly. We understand that remote learning places unique challenges on students and families, and we will be here to support you. Teachers will engage with students and provide robust virtual instruction on a daily basis. District personnel will be available to help troubleshoot access and device issues. Sack lunches will be provided to all students who require them. Ultimately, we will do everything we can to support students and families throughout the current pandemic and beyond.

 

To reiterate, the Red Oak CSD is considering a temporary suspension of face-to-face instruction at Inman Elementary and Red Oak Jr/Sr High School, effective November 12 through the Thanksgiving holiday. These changes will not impact the district’s preschool program. If granted permission by the Iowa Department of Education, the Red Oak Board of Education will consider the matter during a special meeting on Wednesday, November 11. We will keep you appraised as additional information becomes available.

 

Respectfully,

 

Ron Lorenz

Superintendent