Gretchen Oppriecht introduced Tara Cliff, the Health Services Supervisor of Eastern Carver County Schools.
Tara manages a team of 21 nurses in a district of nearly 10,000 students. She described the background of the decisions affecting and implementing the in-person and distance-learning model of the district’s schools. The exponential increase in COVID cases that occurred in early November, and recognizing the priority for student and staff health and safety, the District’s leadership moved the learning model into all distance learning. This will last at least through the end of the school term in January 2021.
From the Dec. 11 message on the District 112 website (www.district112.org):
“As a district, we have had 205 positive cases since the start of the school year, students and staff combined, with virtually every building in our district impacted. To date, we have had 3,210 students – 35% of our student body – quarantined either because of a positive case or as a close contact. We’ve seen the same for 378 of our staff – a total of 27%.”
Ms. Cliff described the processes to monitor the health of students and staff, the difficult efforts required for contact tracing, and impacts of the pandemic on staffing, activities and building maintenance. All students have been provided with the hardware and accounts to receive distance learning. Tara assured us that teachers and other staff are doing their best to maintain personal contact with students and parents, and to achieve the learning objectives and best outcomes possible in this difficult environment. Additional professional development has also been provided to better enable teachers in their new responsibilities.
Within the next month, Tara and the school administration hope to know more about the impact of vaccine availability on schooling practices and the health and safety of students and staff.