In a communication sent to families and posted on the Waterloo School District website Thursday, Oct. 15 Superintendent Brian Henning announced the Waterloo Intermediate/Middle School, serving grades 5-8, would be shifting to all-remote instruction beginning Friday, Oct. 16.

According to the letter, a total of four COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at the school since Monday, Oct. 12. Based on the district’s coronavirus policy, a building will close if there are three confirmed cases.

Students in grades 5-8 will have virtual instruction through Friday, Oct. 23 and will resume in-person learning Monday, Oct. 26.

In-person instruction will continue for students in grades PreK-4 and 9-12. All high school extra-curricular activities will continue as planned.

This is the second time the Waterloo School District has needed to close a building due to COVID-19. The elementary school shifted to all-virtual instruction for the week of Sept. 28 due to four confirmed coronavirus cases among the PreK-4 population.

Board agrees to continue hybrid instruction model

The consensus of the school board at its Oct. 12 meeting was to continue offering the hybrid model of instruction and not switch to an entirely remote method of learning.

Henning said it is anticipated the schools will close throughout the academic year due to the number of coronavirus cases. He also noted COVID-19 has become more prevalent in Jefferson County. According to the county health department’s coronavirus dashboard, 184 Waterloo residents have tested positive for the virus.

“Obviously the numbers in the county and the state are what they are,” he said. “If you look at all our confirmed cases… we’re running at a lower positivity rating than the general public.”

The superintendent believed the school nurse has been instrumental in keeping the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the school down.

“Nurse Sarah (Borchert) gets a large portion of credit for this,” Henning said. “When kids get sick, they are sent home for 10 days and a lot of other districts chose to send kids home for three days. Basically, that takes the guesswork out of whether they will come back and infect anyone.”

The Waterloo School District has also been proactive in preventing the virus from entering the school population by taking measures that may not be popular, but have been successful such as daily temperature checks of all students before they enter the building.

“It’s intrusive and it’s extra work for the teachers and it’s not fun to have to call parents and tell them that their child has a temperature when they looked just fine when they walked out the door that morning,” Henning said.

However, the superintendent pointed out the district can only do so much to help control the spread of the virus before revealing parents had sent their children to school knowing the student had coronavirus.

“These are all things we’re forced to deal with,” he said, “and all we can do is take it one day at a time and do the best we can.”

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