Albia Superintendent Kevin Crall told the school board last Monday that the opening of school in the fall won’t be “normal” but he expects students to be in classrooms. “We want to get back to the old normal as quickly as possible, but until a vaccine is released, this may be the new normal,” he said.
It was very close to what Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered on Friday.
Crall said that the new normal would include no assemblies, lunch in classrooms, no field trips, assigned seating in classes and changes in busing. The school will also limit volunteers and visitors. Lockers won’t be used and lunches will likely be served as “box lunches.” He said that at this point, the wearing of masks was still on the table, but that the governor and the Iowa Department of Health are not mandating them. “We’re still on the bubble,” he said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics have urged schools not to use masks in the lower grade levels in particular. “Some stakeholders are opposed to masks,” said Crall. Crall said that the key to successful reopening with students at school is the health of staff. “If a staff member goes down, we can’t have school,” he said. “It is strategic that staff not go down.”
He added the thought that if a student were tested positive, the entire school would not shut down. Board member Linda Hoskins said that using masks would only be as good as enforcement. “I go back and forth on masks,” said Crall. “It may be that we go to shields with staff.”
Crall said that as school reopens, temperature screening will become routine. He said that assigned seating and having lunch in classrooms is part of the school’s need to do contact tracing in the event of a positive test.
A new phrase introduced Monday by Crall was “six-feet distancing-15-minute rule” which means COVID-19 adds time of exposure to exposure distance.
Transportation will also look different and Crall said the district is planning to allow two students to a seat. He added that in-town pick-up will look different.
If there was any doubt about where the majority of parents lie in terms of having their children back in school, Crall said a telephone survey of parents show that 84 percent want their children back in school five days a week. The survey also showed that 56 percent of parents support the use of face masks.
Crall also surveyed parents regarding childcare and 66 percent of parents said that if the school did not reopen it would not be a problem. Twenty-six percent said it would be a challenge but they could figure it out and seven percent said it would create a huge problem.
In terms of a 100-virtual learning, almost no one favors that, Crall said.
He added that there are concerns about a hybrid learning situation, particularly in terms of high school equities and special education.
Superintendent Crall said summer construction was going ahead of schedule. The roof work has been completed on the B Gymnasium and cafeteria. He said there is some trouble shooting on the 300 wing of the high school. HVAC work is progressing on schedule with the completion day still in mid-August. Chiller and boiler work will be completed in September.
Crall said work on the new band rehearsal area has started with moving a storm sewer and that work is on schedule.
The board accepted the resignations of Carol Cosgrove, kitchen manager and Jacob West, custodian.
Zach Owens was offered a junior high football coaching contract, Wes Aeschliman was offered an assistant high school football coaching contract and Dalton Folkerts and Roberts Parks will share an assistant coaching contract.
Elliott Bulk Services received the low bid for diesel fuel.
The board approved annual appointments.
Joe Starcevic and Ahlers & Cooney were appointed school attorneys.
School depositories included First Iowa State Bank, $5 million; Peoples State Bank, $5 million; ISJIT Trust (Bankers Trust) $1.5 million; Edward Jones, $1.5 million.
Level I Child Abuse Investigators included Kevin Crall, Billy Strickler and Joellen Swartz.
Level II Child Abuse Investigators appointed were local or county law enforcement officers or a private investigator.
Teacher Quality Committee includes Kevin Crall, Joellen Swartz, Billy Strickler, Lori Eads and Richard Montgomery.
The board’s next meeting will be on Aug. 3 to make final decisions on the Return to Learn Plan.