The Decorah Community School District board of directors will hold a special meeting Monday, Nov. 23 at 6:00 p.m. in the Decorah Middle School Media Center to discuss current county and district COVID-19 related data.

The district learning model between Thanksgiving and winter break will be discussed. Superintendent Mark Lane stated he will recommend the following learning model: 

The District would transition to remote learning for all students the week of Monday, Nov. 30 through Friday, Dec. 4.  It would then transition back to full on-site learning for the weeks of Monday, Dec. 7 through Friday, Dec. 11, and Monday, Dec. 14 through Friday, Dec. 18. 

The last two December learning days, Monday, Dec. 21 and Tuesday, Dec. 22, would be remote. The current intention would be to return to full on-site learning Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. 

Superintendent Lane’s statement reads as follows:

“There are a number of reasons I believe transitioning to this model is the right thing for us to do over the next seven weeks. Since the pandemic began, we have found success in a planful, proactive approach. We continue to see our state, county, and district data trending in the wrong direction. It appears local active case counts and 14-day positivity rates will continue to climb. I don’t want to wait and then need to cancel school, or only be able to give families 24-hour notice before the transition to remote learning. 

As these numbers have increased, we have watched the number of students and staff needing to quarantine or isolate increase. We currently have the most staff out for quarantine or isolation at any point this school year. When you couple quarantining/isolating staff absenteeism with the general staff absenteeism we experience on a day-by-day basis, we are challenged to ensure full coverage of our daily staffing needs. A week of remote learning will enable quarantining staff to teach remotely, and hopefully for the number of staff requiring quarantining to settle back to a more manageable level. 

If we wait and fall into a reactive position, it is more likely we would need to submit a waiver request to the Iowa Department of Education to move to remote learning for two weeks. If that occurred, we would also be required to suspend all athletic and extracurricular activities for the period in which we are in remote learning. A one-week period of remote learning does not require approval from the state, and we are not required to suspend all athletic and extracurricular activities. Our students will be able to continue extracurricular engagement during our remote learning week. If we have a contest or concert scheduled, we will be able to have the event under the spectator limits and mitigation practices dictated by the governor’s proclamation. 

Our students have worked incredibly hard to give themselves a chance to have normal school and extracurricular activities. I want to do what we can to be in the best position possible to continue to give them these opportunities. 

When this school year began, I said we would break the year into manageable, planful chunks. We started the year in a hybrid model. We were successful in learning new routines and becoming familiar with how we need to work and learn while promoting health and safety. When we moved to full on-site learning, we said we would maintain the model as long as it was safe and manageable. We are now entering a new period between two breaks. We can go about this period in one of two ways. We can wait until conditions get worse, and then have to rapidly change course at a moment’s notice, or we can lay out a clear plan for finishing the 17 days of school between breaks. 

Monday night, I will recommend the clear, planful approach to our board.”