After considerable back-and-forth discussion at a special board meeting Monday, Sept. 28, the Highland School Board voted unanimously for all grades to return to the classrooms 100% in-person starting Monday, Oct. 5.
Highland is currently using a hybrid system for all grades.
The main discussion was about the need for high school and middle school students returning to in-person classrooms. All seemed to agree that elementary grades need to return to the classroom.
In a parental survey that Supt. Ken Crawford had given the board last week, 73.6% elementary parents supported 100% on-site attendance and 93.3% said they would support sending their children to on-site schooling. The same survey showed that 54.5% of the secondary parents favored in-person classes, but 86% said they would support to sending their high school and middle school students to in-person classes if that was the model the school board picks.
In a related matter, the board voted to enforce an anticipated Iowa Department of Health guideline that will change quarantine procedures. If a COVID-positive person is in contact with others, but all are wearing masks, only the person who tested positive will have to quarantine. Crawford noted this is a big difference from the current guidelines that state the entire classroom must quarantine.
Based on that anticipated guideline, Highland will now require that everyone in buildings and on the grounds of the Highland School District must wear a mask when social distancing cannot be maintained. People can still wear shields provided they also wear masks.
There may be some exceptions for teachers, especially language teachers, when they can maintain social distancing.
Supt. Crawford gave an update on the progress of projects included in the bond issue last September.
Currently construction people are working on working on the socks for ventilation in both the gyms. The vents run across the ceilings of both gyms.
He also noted that because of the $800,000 cost of the wastewater system, some projects may have to be delayed. A report was also given on PPEL and 1% sales tax funds.
Supt. Crawford also said that the firm doing a promotional video on Highland School District had been in the school filming. He invited the board to review what has been done. He suggested one motto might be “Highland, the little school with a great future.”
Jayne Kallaus and Clint Jones, on the teachers Highland Education Union (HEA) presented data from a survey they did of staff last week.
The next Highland regular school board meeting will be Monday, Oct. 12.