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No post-Thanksgiving surge

Eidahl provides COVID update at school board meeting Parents asked to consider game plan for possible closures

SOLON The Solon Community School District (SCSD) made it past Thanksgiving with no serious surge in COVID-19 cases, but its urging parents to be prepared in early 2021.
Superintendent Davis Eidahl provided an update on the districts response to the pandemic during a Dec. 17 school board meeting.
So (we) really appreciate our families and their efforts with mitigation outside the school day, which were pretty sure had a positive impact on our current data, he noted.
Eidahl reported less than one percent of students and less than one percent of staff were absent on the day of the meeting. Twenty-eight students and two staff were quarantined, he added.
In the previous seven days, three students and no staff have tested positive, he said.
We continue to learn from our experiences and tighten or adjust areas of mitigation, he commented. Basketball and wrestling teams are doing very well with guidelines in practice and games, Eidahl stated, with SCSD Activities Director Casey Hack in and out of practices, delivering consistent guidance to coaches. Hack remains in communication with the Iowa Department of Public Health, athletic unions and WaMaC Conference activity directors, the superintendent related.
New measures were implemented for band and vocal classes following a short break, Eidahl noted, to increase mask use and space students out further in rehearsals and in class. The new practices were to be in place for a band concert later in the evening, which was also live-streamed.
Eidahl said the district followed through with emergency strategies discussed in November, hiring six substitute teachers for each school day to help cope with classroom vacancies.
On days with low rates of staff absenteeism, the substitutes are used to provide breaks to teachers throughout the buildings, he said. The same has been done with substitute associates.
In addition, a qualified nurse has been coming in every day to assume the regular responsibilities of school nurses who have been busy conducting contact tracing.
All of the strategies will remain locked in for the first two weeks after the winter break, Eidahl said, and will be assessed two weeks at a time moving forward.
The district began the school year with almost 100 students enrolled virtually through either Edmentum or Apex online curriculum services, he reported, although that number dropped to about 70 further into the semester.
Were going to begin the second semester with that number down to approximately 40, so more students coming back, he observed.
Eidahl said the SCSD sent out a communication to all families Dec. 17 offering support for mitigation efforts and warning of the additional trials of the winter months.
With seasonal illnesses and increased indoor activities, January and February, regardless of the year, challenging months, he said.
The district wants parents to be prepared in the case of a one-to-two week closure by building or district with not much notice, Eidahl stated.
If we gave them three days, do they have a game plan for one to two weeks? he asked.
Board president Tim Brown thanked the community for responding to the districts request to be cautious.
He stressed the need to keep the message consistent, although he recognized the obstacles presented by the pandemic.
People want a solid number that says if we cross this threshold this is whats going to happen, he commented.
Brown agreed with the approach of the Johnson County Public Health Department, looking at whats going on within the community as a whole.
I think you get a more appropriate and better fit and result by looking at it holistically, he observed.
He expressed his appreciation for the school nurses, administration and leadership teams staying on top of the pandemic.