EACSD Board of Directors approves Return to Learn Plan after receiving no public comment

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

The regular monthly meeting of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) was held at Kee High School in Lansing Monday, August 16. Besides Keystone Area Education Agency (AEA) representatives, most of the rest of the meeting audience consisted of new staff members of the district prior to the start of the new school year.

After deleting one new business item, the agenda for the meeting was approved. The board asked for public input on the district’s 2021 Return to Learn Plan policy but since there was none, the board moved on to remarks from Dr. Bill Withers, the local district’s Keystone AEA board representative, and Patrick Heiderscheit, Keystone AEA Administrator. Dr. Withers spoke briefly about what Keystone AEA offers to school districts. Keystone AEA has also started the process of looking for a replacement for Heiderscheit, who will be retiring from Keystone AEA following completion of this current school year.

EACSD’s new staff members then introduced themselves and stated the position they are undertaking for this school year.

New Business included approvals dealing with the business of the district and contracts. Contracts were approved for Susan Tyler as Head Cook, an adjustment for Ian Zahren from .75 full-time equivalent (FTE) to 1.0 FTE, and for Marcia Kruse as .6 Art Teacher. The annual Treasurers’ Report for 2020-2021 was approved as presented and Lynch Dallas PC was approved as the district’s attorney.

The Board approved using the following banks as depositories with maximum deposits as listed: Kerndt Brothers Bank - $6,250,000.00; New Albin Savings Bank - $2,000,000.00; ISCAP - $1,000,000.00; ISJIT - $500,000.00 and Bankers Trust - $3,500,000.00.

With no public comment being offered, the board unanimously approved of the district’s Return to Learn Plan as presented during the public forum to begin the meeting. In summary, the district will follow State guidelines for establishing in-person learning all during the year. There will be on-site learning 100% of the time, unless advised or mandated differently from the State of Iowa. There will be no social distancing or mask mandate unless the State guidelines change, which would cause a re-evaluation from the board as well.

As part of the Return to Learn Plan, students may wear masks if they wish, and students will be instructed to respect those who choose to wear masks. There will be no virtual learning option unless recommended by the State. There is no plan to include hybrid learning by having both onsite and online learning, unless the State recommends as such. There is a possibility that snow days may use virtual learning online.

Nursing staff will coordinate appropriate COVID-19 screenings, if necessary. If a child exhibits any symptoms, they should be kept home. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 should quarantine at home. Nursing staff will manage this situation.

Breakfast and lunch will continue to be free for all students unless the State changes this policy. If schools shut for a specific period of time because of  the governor’s mandate, meals would be available through pick-up and delivery.

The schools will be sanitized and cleaned daily and will utilize practices established during the height of the pandemic. Frequent handwashing will be encouraged.

Teachers will include social-emotional interaction with students, as well as academic contact to establish wellness and daily health. The goal is to make sure each student has at least one adult to connect with them to benefit their overall well-being.
Kee High School and Middle School Principal Dr. Sarah Updegraff reported registration was positive and she is looking forward to a great school year. EACSD will have one new foreign exchange student and possibly two if housing can be secured.

New Albin Elementary School Principal Donna Thomas shared there will be 191 students enrolled at New Albin Elementary this school year. She shared that the improvements that were underway at the New Albin school are complete and look great.

EACSD Superintendent Dr. Dale Crozier commented that the positive enrollment counts for the upcoming school year will keep the EACSD stable. There is new legislation on equality, and essentially everyone needs to be treated equally throughout the education system. There will be continued training for staff on this. A bid was received from Deml Controls to maintain the district’s heating/cooling systems at a cost of approximately $5,800, and Dr. Crozier is looking at alternative options to address this matter.