While many were hopeful for a “back to normal” fall within the schools, unfortunately dealing with the COVID-19 is the “new reality.”
Hiawatha Superintendent Lonnie Moser told the School Board this at Monday night’s regular meeting — held at the middle school library and aired on the district’s YouTube channel and Zoom.
Moser reported on recent Zoom meetings with state officials, noting that the scope of the COVID pandemic and school issues back in March seemed to be that “things would be better” after summer. However, dealing with the Coronavirus is the “new reality,” which he said can seem dismal, but felt that district officials, staff and students were meeting the challenges head on.
“And we are all stronger for it,” he said.
Moser said that each decision the board and administrative team are 100 percent correct and 100 percent wrong — depending upon who you talk to. He said all they can hope to do is to make the best decisions they can in the moment and in the ever-changing scope of the reality of the Coronavirus be prepared to make changes on a weekly, or daily, basis.
He recommended that the School Board continue to meet every two weeks rather than monthly to take care of any issues that may arise or make decisions concerning on-site, hybrid or remote learning. The next School Board meeting will be at 7 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 28 at the HMS library. The meeting is available on the district’s YouTube channel.
As Sept. 20 is official count day that determines federal aid, Moser provided an update on student numbers — down about 30 from last year. He said the kindergarten class is significantly lower — 57 currently compared to 73 last year. He attributed some of the difference to remote learning, but noted that some parents may have opted to keep their child at home rather than starting kindergarten this year. Overall the district has a number of 958 FTE (full-time equivalency) which takes into account half-time students as well. This was compared to 987 for the 2019-20 academic year and equals a difference of about $120,000 in state aid.
Moser noted that several families with remote learners have chosen a curriculum outside of what the district has offered and so they are not included in the student count.