Albia Superintendent Kevin Crall got the go-ahead from the school board to return all students to in-person learning this coming Monday. Crall said that because of the very high positivity rate in the county (Monroe County topped the state in a 14-day average at 37 percent) just as school was resuming, administration decided to begin the year with hybrid learning.
The rate in the seven-day model has dropped significantly, to 23 percent. “That’s still a little too high, but our numbers of positive cases at school are very low,” he said. Monroe County’s spike came from a large number of positive cases at the Monroe Care Center.
“I think our mitigation efforts have been really good,” he said. “Our schools are a good place to come back to.”
A report to the board by Grant Principal Billy Strickler was a bit disconcerting. Strickler reported that there are 10 students doing 100 percent online virtural learning. “We continue to reach out to parents and ask them to help their child do the work, so we can continue to push their academic skills,” he wrote. “Sadly, we are seeing some that are showing zero effort in making this happen.”
Grant and Lincoln Center have continued in-person learning as the junior high and high school have used the hybrid system.
In his report to the school board, Junior High/High School Principal Richard Montgomery complimented his students and staff for adjusting quickly to the hybrid schedule. “Watching our teachers balance the multiple modes of instruction while wrapping up learning for the semester has been amazing,” he wrote.
Montgomery said the junior high and senior high have adjusted its process for semester tests because of the hybrid schedule. Teachers will be administering tests over the course of four days, Friday, Jan. 8 through Wednesday, Jan. 13. “Doing so provides up to two in-person days for assessment for all students in all courses,” he said.
Assistant Junior High/High School Principal Lori Eads gave a short in-person report to the board and talked about strategic planning being done by faculty to help students who might be struggling. “We meet Tuesdays to come up with plans to address specific student needs and then reach out to those students,” she said. “We’ve got about 96 kids on the bubble and so far we’re reaching out to about a third of those offering organization skills, relationship skills and finding out what their issues are in school. We’ve become sort of their in school parent.”
Lincoln Center Principal Joellen Schwartz reported that 16 out of 310 students are learning online. She reported that teachers in grades K-8 are working toward preparing students for FAST assessment the week of Jan. 18. The tests are not proficiency assessments, but meant to identify a larger number of students to prevent anyone from slipping through the cracks. The ISASP tests (formerly Iowa Tests of Basic Skills) will be done in March to assess proficiency of students. “Our teachers are more interested than ever in the results,” she wrote.