After a half-hour executive session, the Dakota Valley School Board decided, utilizing Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), to give all school employees a one-time stipend for their efforts to keep students in school during this pandemic. Administrators will receive $1,000, teachers (certified staff) $750 and hourly (classified staff) $300.
The CRF is different than CARES Act Funding and is based on $500 per student. Dakota Valley will receive $691,000 but has currently received $621,900. The rest will be distributed come November after the final district enrollment numbers are received. Those numbers are calculated the last Friday in September every year. Dakota Valley’s enrollment for this year is 1,381 students which is higher than was projected (1,366) during the summer.
Emily Norby was present to address the board about school attendance, keeping symptom-free students in school and an update from the CDC website. She attended the last special meeting and felt that she wasn’t completely clear and wanted to clarify her thoughts and position on the matter.
“I’m speaking for myself, as a parent, and I’m not advocating to send sick kids to school,” she stated.
She read from the CDC website. The website stated that the overlap of symptoms in COVID-19 means that children could actually be sick with something else, especially young children.
“Students who are sick with contagious illnesses should not attend school as most illnesses do not require the same level or length of isolation that COVID-19 does,” Norby read. “Excluding students from school for longer than what is called for in the existing school policies (i.e. fever-free for 24 hours without medication) based on COVID-19 symptoms alone risks for repeated long-term unnecessary student absence.”
She stated that she believes everyone is doing a great job, the teachers are phenomenal and she is appreciative of all the efforts they’re doing to keep symptom-free students in school.
The board heard from administrators on attendance levels at parent-teacher conferences conducted last week. In the elementary, attendance was at 97 percent with 33 percent being held via Zoom and 67 percent in person. In the upper elementary, the fourth grade class is still calculating their participation levels and the fifth grade was 87 percent. The middle school saw lower percentages than normal, coming in around 68 percent. The high school participation was at 25 percent when it normally is around 50 percent.
School board member Matt Thompson said he thinks part of the reason attendance is down could be because of the current lines of communication between parents, teachers and the school district. He stated that communication lines are so open right now, that some parents, including him, might not see the need to come in and speak with teachers if their students aren’t struggling.
See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.