North Iowa school districts closely watching attendance rates

Brett Bachtle
Updated: November 16, 2020 06:44 PM
Created: November 16, 2020 06:26 PM

(ABC 6 News) - While school districts across southeast Minnesota switch to distance learning, in north Iowa, school officials are taking it day by day.

Iowa schools have to meet certain benchmarks before they can submit a request to the governor to make the switch to online learning.

Superintendent of Forest City & Central Springs Community Schools Darwin Lehmann isn't focused on the case positivity rates. He wants to make sure he has enough healthy staff to teach his students.

"I've always said from day one it's not going to be the county positivity rates or the student absentee rates in particular that'll have an impact on schools going face to face - it's going to be our staff absentee rate. Are we going to have enough staff to provide education?" said Lehmann. "If I lost five bus drivers we're done dealing or if I loose five in my nutrition department we're done because we can't manage those and maintain a sound educational system."

Charles City Community Schools will also transition to virtual learning if they can no longer staff the school. However, they're more concerned about the number of students missing. Last week, 4.3% were absent.

"If we reach a certain level of community spread which is above 10 percent, which we have reached in the community, and we also have a high attendance rate where our students are not able to attend school, then when that reaches 10 percent we also would go into a online learning model for students," said Charles City Community School District Director of Communications Justin DeVore.

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