School Districts in Southeast Iowa switch to Temporary Virtual Learning as COVID-19 cases rise

Ottumwa, Fairfield, and Davis County schools experience strain from COVID, and two move their...
Ottumwa, Fairfield, and Davis County schools experience strain from COVID, and two move their students virtual as COVID-19 cases and positivity rates rise.(KYOU)
Published: Nov. 13, 2020 at 7:44 PM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - It was no surprise in August that learning would look a little different, but as coronavirus cases rise in Southeast Iowa, some schools are seeing a return to virtual learning.

Evans Middle School shut down this week as students went to virtual learning. An increase in absent staff made teaching in person difficult. Staff will deep clean the halls in Evans while the students are gone.

The same will apply to all schools in the Ottumwa District on November 23rd and 24th into the Thanksgiving break, allowing cleaning in all schools during the break.

The district says this will also prepare teachers in case they have to switch to virtual learning in the future.

Fairfield is experiencing strain from COVID, as they will move 100% to virtual learning next week. As one of the counties Fairfield Schools cover is Wapello which has a positivity rate of around 25%, it hits the requirement to apply to the Iowa Department of Education for switching to virtual learning.

No plans have been released for the week of the 23rd.

Davis County switched back to full in-school learning early in November and while the district has not announced any plans to go back to a hybrid or virtual plan, Davis County’s positivity rate of 22% and latest numbers from the district showing 8 students positive and 149 in quarantine, qualifies them to switch to virtual learning, if the district decides to go with this route.

However, what Ottumwa District is learning, it’s more about the absent staff than the absent students. Davis County, for instance, has 13 staff in quarantine.

As Mike McGrory, Ottumwa’s Superintendent says: “If you have a lot of staff out, and you don’t have enough staff, I could envision scenarios when we’d have to close a classroom or a building."

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