Meskwaki Schools go virtual as COVID numbers rise

Area schools experiencing increasing illness

T-R PHOTO BY DARVIN GRAHAM Leaders at the Meskwaki Settlement School, pictured, recently made the decision to move to all virtual learning, citing a surge in COVID-19 cases among the student body.

TAMA — Leaders at the Meskwaki Settlement School met Wednesday morning and opted to switch to virtual instruction beginning on Thursday and continuing through the upcoming week due to increasing COVID-19 infections among the student body.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Superintendent Steve Hanson said the decision was made due to “a spike in the number of students testing positive for COVID-19, and the number of students exposed and assigned to quarantine.” Meskwaki plans to return to in-person instruction on Jan. 24.

The district previously switched to virtual Zoom instruction for two weeks in October of 2021, and the plan is to use the same schedule and procedures during the current round of distance learning.

Information regarding virtual instruction is available both on the school’s website and its Facebook page, and attendance will be taken for every class.

Grab and go meals will be available for students during the virtual period. Meal distribution began on Thursday and will also be held on Jan. 18 at the elementary school entrance from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

According to the school’s Facebook post, attendance at Meskwaki home basketball games this week will be limited to five visitors per player, and a code must be obtained from a Meskwaki player in order to purchase tickets online. Games will also be livestreamed.

“During this period of virtual instruction, we ask you to keep students safe by limiting your activities outside the home and wearing masks when you go to an indoor space away from home,” Hanson said in the school’s post. “Please do all you can to stop or slow the spread of this virus.”

On the same day Meskwaki Settlement School announced it was moving to virtual instruction, Tama County Public Health (TCPH) announced cases are on the rise across the county.

“We are aware of three long term care outbreaks in Tama County,” TCPH wrote in a Facebook post. “Please take steps to protect our vulnerable populations. Mask, stay home when sick, get vaccinated and avoid large gatherings.”

On Wednesday, Tama County’s level of COVID-19 transmission was labeled as “high” with a seven-day positivity rate of 29.67 percent. There have been 51 new positive test results in the past 24 hours.

For the week ending Jan. 1, 2022, the Iowa Dept. of Public Health, via its Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network, reported the overall influenza activity in the state to be “moderate” with the proportion of outpatient visits due to Influenza-like Illness (ILI) at 4.20 percent, well above the regional baseline of 1.7 percent.

For the 2021-2022 flu season, the percent of Iowans receiving the flu vaccine sits at 30.2 percent, while the rate of full vaccination against COVID-19 in Tama County sits at 58 percent.

Children are as likely to be infected with COVID-19 as adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, children can get very sick and experience both short and long-term health complications from COVID-19, and they can spread the virus to others at home and at school.

Tama County Public Health frequently holds COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and all individuals ages five and up are eligible to receive the vaccine.


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