CEDAR RAPIDS — Hoover Elementary School started online-only Monday morning after receiving a waiver from the Iowa Department of Education to temporarily move to remote instruction for one week because of rising coronavirus cases.
The Cedar Rapids Community School District also has requested a waiver for Johnson STEAM Academy to move to temporary virtual instruction until Nov. 24, which is the start of Thanksgiving break. Students would return to Johnson Nov. 30.
Although there have been some student absences, the concern is primarily the number of teacher absences at both Johnson and Hoover.
Students will continue learning remotely for the next week.
Superintendent Noreen Bush said there was a “surge” of coronavirus cases over the weekend and more staff across the district’s schools were absent Monday morning.
It is possible the district will apply for more temporary remote instruction waivers Monday, Bush said.
For Hoover, the district applied for a temporary remote instruction waiver Friday and received the OK from the Department of Education Friday night.
The waiver for Johnson was submitted Monday and students will begin temporary remote instruction Tuesday. The Department of Education allows schools 48 hours to move online temporarily while districts await their decision.
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Hoover each day last week saw between 17 and 18 staff out of school because of quarantine or illness that wasn’t necessarily COVID-19-related, Bush said.
Hoover has a staff of 70.
Bush said, as with every school district, Cedar Rapids is “hurting when it comes to substitute” teachers. Permanent substitute teachers from other schools in the district were pulled to Hoover last week to fill vacancies.
By Nov. 16, enough staff gradually will have returned to Hoover to move back to in-person learning, Bush said.
Bush said moving to temporary remote learning was an easy decision to make for safety reasons, but “was a very hard decision to support our children.” Hoover has 367 students in in-person learning.
“Kids keep getting a different set of circumstances, and our youngest learners have a difficult time managing that,” Bush said.
Under Gov. Kim Reynold’s proclamation, schools can apply for temporary remote instruction if the county rate for coronavirus cases for a 14-day period is between 15 percent to 20 percent and student absences reach 10 percent.
The district updates the total number of students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are in quarantine every Friday.
On Friday, Nov. 6:
• 88 students were in quarantine
• 20 students had tested positive for COVID-19
• 69 staff were in quarantine
• 45 staff tested positive for COVID-19.
If the number of students or staff in quarantine or who have tested positive is five or fewer, the district is not revealing the actual number out of privacy concerns.
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The number of Hoover staff who are in quarantine is five or fewer, as is the number who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Twenty-four Hoover students are in quarantine, and five or fewer have tested positive for the coronavirus.
At Johnson STEAM Academy, five or fewer staff were in quarantine and the same for staff who had tested positive for the coronavirus.
No students at Johnson were reported to be in quarantine or to have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday.
Bush said contact tracing in collaboration with Linn County Public Health is showing that the coronavirus is spreading from adults to adults, whether it’s in their homes, community or through a colleague relationship.
“It’s hard to say where that environment is. For us, we’re not seeing it as a school-related issue from student to teacher contact or teacher to student. There may be some of that, but that is not the primary driving percentage,” she said.
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