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Kirksville R-III School District

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Instructional Level Update

Saturday October 31, 2020

We are grateful for the continued support of the community as we strive to keep our students and staff safe in an attempt to provide the best learning options we can. We are reaching out to you with important information about our effort to continue to successfully manage the COVID-19 pandemic within the Kirksville R-III School District. After in-depth counseling with school and district administration, and with valuable input from several other members of the Kirksville community, the Kirksville R-III School District has determined it is the overall best interest of our students and staff to remain at instructional Level II. 

We have had success in the district at Level II, even in light of how the county cases have increased (at least to this date). We plan to stay our course at Level II until we see a significant increase in district spread. We understand this contradicts our previous plans/criteria, thus any students/parents not comfortable with this are invited to switch to online education. We will of course facilitate that transition as needed. We plan to tighten our protocols to mitigate spread within the district to guard against lax attention in using safety precautions. We are also considering staff safety and the emotional well-being of all involved in whichever level we choose.

For a more detailed description regarding this decision please continue reading through the end of this document. 

As the District has witnessed success at Level II and our understanding of covid transmission is more clear, we are choosing to adapt our plan to maintain this successful approach. We feel that until the District itself is a significant contributor to virus spread in our community, we choose to maintain our status at Level II. As the District has not seen the amount of spread as the surrounding county has seen, we feel it is safer for the students to spend time in the district with in-seat education, balanced with effective mitigating factors (e.g. masks, distancing).  It is worth noting that thus far in the district we have had zero cases of the virus spread from student to student or student to staff. This aligns with findings from around the world as described in these recent articles: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/22/health/coronavirus-schools-children.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/29/world/europe/schools-coronavirus-europe-lockdowns.html?

At the time we developed our original Pivot Criteria most infectious disease experts felt that children in school would be a major factor in the spreading of the virus, as this has been the historic norm.  However, those experts now verify this is not happening. Those studies show that student-spread was primarily due to a lack of following safety precautions. Students are not now believed to be superspreaders nor even moderate vectors in passing the virus on to adults or to other children.  This new understanding is the foundation for the District decision to remain at Level II. The Administration will continue to monitor the spread and effects of the virus in our school population and should any significant trends develop, the Board will be advised so it can take appropriate action, including, if need be, a pivot to Level III.

The District will continue its recently announced effort to explore how the CDC guidance for schools might provide a more comprehensive set of criteria. We will continue to partner with current members of the Covid Coalition but will expand the membership of that group to other members of the community, especially to include more medical professionals. We seek to become more specific in how the criteria are applied. By using data that is specific to what is taking place within the schools, though not ignoring what happens in the rest of the community, we believe we can avoid a premature pivot to fully online instruction. The District continues to maintain that Level III is the least effective of the instructional models we can deploy.

We appreciate all the effort, hard work, and good will of students, staff and community members who seek to join with us in managing this pandemic. As is always our practice in education, we continually reflect to ensure student learning and safety are the top priority. We appreciate your ongoing support as we work together to adjust plans as needed as we strive to best serve our students, staff, and community.