11/11/2020 9:50:00 AM The 2020 school year and questions we receive
"How is school going?" This is the first question asked when I see community members. It is followed by, quickly, "I am glad you are open or thank you for keeping school open." There are many more questions our community has. I hope this column helps answer most of them. School setting How are you making your decision for the school setting for students? Windom Area Schools has a required COVID Command Team meet weekly or more often, if necessary, to review data to make a decision on our learning model. This team has teachers, administration, school board and custodial members who can connect to local public health, regional support, Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Department of Health to help working through COVID decisions. The team considers the following information when it comes to what learning model we should be in: Weekly Cottonwood County COVID data provided by the MDH and Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services. Review county data to see where cases are occurring with DVHHS (In schools? Long-term care facilities? What age groups or workplaces are experiencing cases?) Examine our own WAS data number and percentage of cases in children and staff. Examine whether there is spread within the school and can quarantine close contacts of cases. Review absences of student and staff absenteeism. The team can look at this information and make an informed decision on how COVID is affecting our school within our students and staff. Each week the information can change, but the focus is - is it safe to stay in our current school model or do we need to make a change? Different model Why is our school system in a different model than other schools? Each school system is unique in student enrollment, space available and resources creating a different situation in every community. Internally, WAS has built a system that allows for use of our square footage allowing for social distancing, the podding of students, adding staff to make smaller classes and creating schedules to maximize use of space, strong attendance and tracking of student/staff that makes our contact tracing of cases more accurate. Externally, parents keeping students home, if sick, or if someone within their household is sick, reduces the risk of COVID spreading within the school system. This simple act of staying home when sick, or others in the house are sick, drastically reduces the spread and allows our schools to stay open longer. How long will WAS be able to stay in its current model? This depends on all the factors above and is impossible to predict at this time, but WAS will continue to place student and staff safety as our highest priority!
Wayne Wormstadt has been the Windom superintendent of schools for nine years.