Board keeps learn mode in green for two weeks

By Blake Spurney

Staff

The USD 373 Board of Education voted Monday morning to remain in the green mode of learning for the weeks of Sept. 28-Oct. 9.

The green setting means in-person classes for all students who did not choose the remote-only mode of learning.

Superintendent Fred Van Ranken reviewed the different gating criteria with board members at the Zoom meeting that began at 10:30 a.m. He noted that student attendance rate for the past two weeks had been 94.8 percent.

The Harvey County health department reported 17 new cases in the last week. The county’s latest number for percentage of positive tests over a two-week period was 5.93 percent. Though those numbers went from August 30 to September 12.
For the last full week the state listed the county’s positive percentage at 3.18 percent. Both states would put the district in the Green Zone.

Van Rankin said the district wouldn’t have more up-to-date numbers from the state and didn’t expect to receive them until 12:30 p.m.

Board member Andy Ortiz referred to emails he had received from parents and said it sounded like the stress level was pretty high, especially for teachers with families. He suggested extending board decisions for mode of learning beyond one week so people could better plan.

Board member Melissa Schreiber concurred.

“If we wanted to extend it a little longer, I would favor that to ease stress levels for families,” she said.

Ortiz said one thing that stuck out to him was an email from a teacher who was nervous about going back to school.

Board Vice President Jennifer Budde said she initially want decisions to for two weeks but that the board decided making a weekly decision was better. She also said she would mind if the board had another special meeting this week receiving the updated numbers from the state.

Board President Matt Treaster said he would not be available later Monday, and a couple of other board members said they would not be available.

Board member Mallory Morton asked if the board would have the same issue of not receiving new numbers every time it met.

Van Ranken said He also said he was hesitant for the board to make a decision that extended beyond one week due to the lack of information.

“I don’t have all the numbers, you know what I mean?” he said. “I was just hoping I would get it but I just didn’t get it.”

Van Ranken said that would be the case if the board chose to meet at 10:30 a.m. Mondays. He said he would prefer meetings be held at 2 p.m., which would give him enough time to make sure the numbers for the gating criteria were right.

Morton said if the data changed dramatically in the next week the board could hold another special meeting to change the learning mode.

“If we jump from green to orange a couple of categories, that’s worth keeping an eye on,” she said.

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