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ECSD Moves to Hybrid Learning Amid New Public Health Measures

By Staff | Nov 17, 2020

by Joseph Schany

As COVID-19 exposures continue to rise throughout the state and in Palo Alto County, area schools are working hard to help curb the spread of the illness and help keep students, parents, staff and the community safe.

Emmetsburg Community School District (ECSD) will be implementing a Hybrid Learning model beginning this week and continuing to the end of November. At the secondary level (grades 5-12), this model implements an A/B school schedule determined by family, dividing students into an A section and B section to attend school in-person two days a week.

“This will allow for approximately half of the students to attend school on any given school day at the secondary level,” said ECSD Superintendent Darren Hanna in an announcement last week. “The reduction in student numbers in the building will allow us to provide social distancing throughout the day.”

Students in section A will attend school on Monday and Thursday, while B section will attend on Tuesday and Friday. Wednesdays will be used for open class periods, allowing students to work with teachers via online platforms like Google Meet and for staff to provide support for online learning.

Elementary students in grades PK-4 will attend school four days a week, with Wednesdays utilized for completing individual work from home.

“It is crucial that we provide elementary students in-person access to their teachers as they master foundational benchmarks in reading and math,” said Hanna.

Face masks will be a requirement at both the elementary and secondary levels.

ECSD’s move to the Hybrid Learning plan was announced Wednesday amid numerous concerns caused by the ongoing pandemic. Last week, ECSD reported an over 11% quarantine/isolation rate, with over 100 students and staff out of school. The school was also forced to isolate an entire junior high basketball team recently due to an exposure at practice. The district made the decision to switch to Hybrid Learning after consulting with Palo Alto County Community Health and following Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ press conference on Tuesday, in which the governor outlined new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID in Iowa. The enhanced public health measures place restrictions on social, community, recreational, leisure, or sporting activities, noting gatherings with more than 25 people indoors or 100 people outdoors will be prohibited unless everyone over the age of two wears a mask.

At youth and high school sporting events, only two spectators will be allowed for each participating athlete, with spectators maintaining a distance of six feet apart. Masks are also required for all spectators over two years old.

Additional limitations were placed on restaurants and bars, along with personal service establishments like salons and barbershops, requiring social distancing, limited congregating, and mask mandates.

Read the full article in The Reporter.