The Central DeWitt school district will move to a 100% in-person learning model beginning Monday, Sept. 21.
The district announced the change Friday afternoon in an email sent to parents and in social media posts.
Central DeWitt began its school year in a hybrid model in which half the student body was in the buildings at a given time. However, Central DeWitt Superintendent Dan Peterson, who was given authority to alter the school’s learning model by the school board, said the hybrid learning model has gone “exceptionally well” and cited a dropping COVID-19 testing positivity rate as reasoning for the switch.
The rolling 14-day average of positive COVID-19 cases in Clinton County was 9.1% on Monday morning, according to figures released by the Iowa Department of Public Health. Sept. 9 the rolling average was 11.3%, and on Sept 3 it was 14.1%.
School districts may request to move to 100% online learning for two weeks if their counties have a 15% positive COVID-19 rate in a two-week period and 10% of students are absent, according to guidelines set by Gov. Kim Reynolds, the IDPH and the Iowa Department of Education. Districts in counties with 20% and above positivity rate also may request temporarily closing buildings or the whole district.
Central DeWitt reported its district-wide absentee percentage at 2.5% or lower each day between Sept. 1 and Sept. 11. To keep parents abreast, Peterson will share the district’s absentee statistics weekly with parents, the school said in a social media post.
“We’ve also kept the number of students impacted by the virus low,” Peterson said in an email to parents. “This is a tremendous thing, and we’ve done this by working together and protecting ourselves in the best ways we know.”
Central DeWitt requires all students, staff and faculty to wear masks.
The switch to an in-person instructional model does not affect students who are using the district’s online-learning structure. Parents who wish to change their child’s instructional model can do so by contacting their student’s school’s main office.
Reaction from parents on social media was mixed.
Casey Veach said in a Facebook comment she believes the switch to in-person instruction is “best for everyone.”
“This virus is not going away and we need to continue to look for solutions to move forward,” she said.
Fellow district parent Apryl Onken said the hybrid model worked well for her household, but “this is the best choice for kids.”
Jeremy Goddard said his children will continue learning remotely.
“I know this decision was not easy, but I feel it’s not the right decision for our Sabers,” he said in a social media post.
“Please know I have not made this decision easily,” Peterson said. “I do, however, believe it to be the best for the students, families, and community we serve.”