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At the Nov. 9 meeting of the Gothenburg School Board, the main topic of conversation was, of course, Covid. From explaining how placement on the risk dial is determined to teachers making preparations for potential remote learning, the pandemic was at the heart of nearly every report.

Junior High/Senior High Principal Seth Ryker shared with the board the importance of the district’s technology programs in providing remote learning opportunities. Ryker said the list of remote learning students is managed by the school’s nurses, and he is provided with a list of both healthy quarantines and positive isolations on a daily basis. He said once a student is identified as having been exposed and needing to quarantine, a letter is sent home to the parents explaining what the learning plan will look like.

“We think it’s important for the students for us to maintain some flexibility. The key has been communication,” Ryker said. “A student may go home as a healthy quarantine and get sick a couple of days later. The parents need to let us know that, and they have been doing a good job of that.”

Allison Jonas, Director of Teaching and Learning, said the school continues to work in partnership with the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition to ensure students continue to receive services. Keeping the doors to the early childhood centers open is imperative for allowing parents to continue to work, Jonas noted.

She shared that the state board of education plans to proceed with assessment testing this spring, whether the district is meeting in-person or remotely. Superintendent Dr. Todd Rhodes said he runs the attendance numbers for the district a couple of times every day, and has regular conversations with both Gothenburg Health and Two Rivers Public Health Department officials. Those factors are used to determine the district’s risk dial assessment, which currently remains in the orange risk tier.

“We still believe this is the safest place for our kids to be,” said Dr. Rhodes. “When they are here they are masked, fed and socially distanced as much as possible. We have had very few positive cases as a result of exposure at school.”

Dr. Rhodes also briefly discussed the difficulty in finding replacement teachers when a staff member has to be quarantined. “What could move us to a red level is potentially not having enough teaching staff rather than too many students being out,” he said.

The one action item on the agenda was the review of the 2019-20 audit, which was approved as presented. The next meeting of the Gothenburg school board is set for Dec. 14 at 5 p.m.

Contact Ellen Mortensen at ellen@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.537.9498