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Columbus High School, Dunkerton Schools switching to online learning around Thanksgiving

Online Learning

BLACK HAWK COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) -- More schools in the Cedar Valley are making plans to switch to virtual learning leading up to and after Thanksgiving.

In a post on Cedar Valley Catholic Schools' website, Chief Administrator Tom Novotney says Columbus High School in the days leading up to and after Thanksgiving break.

Class is not in session for high school students on Thursday or Friday as those will be considered professional development days for high school staff. The on Monday and Tuesday, 9th grade students will have virtual learning days while 10th-12th grade students will still participate in in-person learning.

The district will then break for Thanksgiving and return on November 30 for virtual learning through December 4. High school students are then scheduled to return for in-person learning on December 7.

High school activities as well as athletic practices and competitions will continue as scheduled.

Novotney says staff absences and the reduced availability of substitute teachers led to the decision to transition Columbus High to temporary online learning. However, Novotney adds absentee rates for students and staff are below 8% on all campuses.

Novotney encourages district families to continue doing their to part to help limit the spread of COVID-19 by limiting group gatherings, washing hands frequently, staying home when you are sick and wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible.

The full statement from Cedar Valley Catholic Schools can be found here.

The Dunkerton School District will conduct in-person learning through Thanksgiving break with plans to conduct virtual learning once students return from break. Classes will not be held on November 30 as the district moves up a professional development day. The district will then conduct virtual learning on December 1-2 with plans to resume in-person learning on December 3, depending on contact tracing as well as staff and student positivity rates.

A letter from district leaders says this plan will allow them "to mitigate some of the potential contacts following the Thanksgiving Holiday." The letter goes on to say despite calls from elected officials and health leaders across the state to limit gatherings, "families will likely be around others during the holiday week and going virtual gives students a chance to stay safe at home for an additional six days following Thanksgiving Day."

The district is asking parents to report any potential absences on December 1 in order to plan for resuming in-person learning on December 3.

The full letter from the Dunkerton School District can be found here.

Dunkerton's COVID-19 dashboard says fewer than 6 students and 6 staff members are currently testing positive. Less than 6 staff members are quarantining due to possible exposure. 34 students are in quarantine. The district reports an 11% absentee rate, including students that are in quarantine.

Both schools systems were involved in discussions with Black Hawk County schools, which led to an announcement earlier this week that Waterloo and Cedar Falls Schools will have five days of online learning before and after Thanksgiving.

Trevor Oates

Executive Producer

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