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School Concerned Over Rising COVID Numbers

By Joseph Schany - | Nov 24, 2020

by Joseph Schany

“We started Hybrid Learning on Monday and you can see what we are up against,” began Darren Hanna, Emmetsburg Community School District (ECSD) Superintendent, providing an update on the district’s COVID-19 response to attendees of the Board of Education meeting Wednesday evening at Emmetsburg High School. “Palo Alto County is currently at a 21.7 percent positivity rate, though that’s pretty standard across the state.”

Hanna pointed out that the current figure is a 14-day average so the number will slowly rise as more positive cases are identified.

The district is working with Sarah Strohman, Palo Alto County Community Health, monitoring the number of people getting tested to maintain accurate reporting of COVID numbers.

According to Hanna, the other barrier the district is up against is positive cases versus the number of people isolated due to exposure.

“We’ve been trying to track the number of positive cases at both the secondary and elementary and the number of people who are isolated because of contact,” said Hanna. “We have a small number of cases, but the number of people who are out because of direct contact has gotten quite large.”

As of Wednesday’s meeting, ECSD was at a 10.39 percent absentee rate for the week, with numbers expected to climb by week’s end.

State parameters outline a 10 percent absentee rate and 15 percent county positivity rate before a district can apply for virtual learning, though Hanna points out those numbers are merely a guideline.

“Just because you get above 15 percent doesn’t mean you have to apply to go virtual,” said Hanna. “But it does open that gate.”

Read the full article in The Reporter.