The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Two weeks was all it took: Grinnell-Newburg back in-person

Fairview Elementary was one of the schools that recently reopened after a two-week spate of online learning. Photo by Kaya Matsuura.

Students in the Grinnell-Newburg Community School District returned to in-person learning last week after being online since Nov. 16.

“It was kind of nice to see the excitement, I would have to say, in the hallways, as well as a lot of kids very excited to see their teachers,” said Superintendent Dr. Janet Stutz, who visited several schools in the district on the first day back. “Even the high school students were walking in with a little skip.”

In Iowa, COVID-19 positivity rates are now lower than they were in mid-November, and in the week of Dec. 3, Poweshiek County had the lowest 14-day test positivity rate of any county in Iowa, at 9.1 percent.

But two weeks is still a short amount of time. Originally, the point of going online was because too many teachers were in quarantine to successfully cover in-person classes. Closing for two weeks allowed all those quarantines to run out.

Stutz emphasized that school is not the place where COVID-19 is transmitted, at least in Poweshiek County. “A lot of it wasn’t from school,” she said, “it was the fact that they were being exposed in their homes or from other family members.”

Importantly, the choice to reopen on Dec. 3 came five days after the Thanksgiving holiday, allowing any possible symptoms to become visible in that timeframe. According to the CDC, symptoms can take between two and 14 days to develop.

Things at Grinnell-Newburg schools will be mostly the same as they were in September, at the start of the school year. The only rule-change Stutz pointed to was a more strictly-enforced mask policy, which now requires the use of traditional face-masks rather than allowing face shields or neck gaiters.

“What we do know is that a mask is probably a better protector than anything else,” said Stutz, “Although there’s not a lot of evidence that you know one way or another with face shields.” Joe Quiros, who sent his children to stay with their grandparents in Texas during the latest period of online learning, made the round trip to pick them up so they could go back to attending in-person class.

“A couple of nights in a hotel and a few rest stops and that’s about it,” Quiros said. “I try to use the least populated gas stations and rest areas.”

“I don’t think schools, specifically the Grinnell-Newburg Community schools, are getting enough credit,” Quiros said.

He said he appreciates how teachers held multiple small Zoom sessions throughout the day, rather than one big Zoom class, so that students in each session could get more individual attention. “I want [the school district] to do what’s in the best interest of the students, regardless of how it affects us as parents.”

If in-person learning has to shut down again before winter break, which is scheduled to start Dec. 23, students shouldn’t hope for an extended break, due to the amount of time already missed.

“Right now, our last day is June 5, which is already late [in the year] because we had to start late because of the derecho,” said Stuz, “If we shut down and don’t have online learning going on, we have to make that time up. That would go into the second week of June, and usually that doesn’t make parents very happy.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *