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Hiawatha USD 415 schools are moving to remote learning on Thursday - and all activities canceled - until Oct. 12.

This announcement was made Wednesday afternoon after the school had posted notices of two staff positive COVID cases at the elementary earlier this week.

In a letter to district families and patrons on Wednesday, Superintendent Lonnie Moser said the decision was made due to a significant increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community and schools. According to statistics reported by the Brown County Health Department on Wednesday, there have been 113 cases reported.

"These cases have impacted our schools to a great extent," he said. "While many of the cases in our schools are isolated in one building, the consequences have hit all of our schools. It has also made it impossible to effectively staff our school buildings."

Moser said that as a result, the district will be moving from the current in-person instructional model to remote learning for all students. All athletics and other activities are temporarily suspended until at least Oct. 12, when practices are expected to resume, according to Athletic Director Kim Lillie. She said she will be working diligently to reschedule events.

"Fortunately, we have planned for this scenario and are ready to quickly make the transition," Moser said. "We will begin the remote learning model for all grade levels tomorrow, Sept. 24."

Moser said district officials anticipate staying in the remote learning phase through Friday, Oct. 9. We hope to be able to return to in-person learning on Oct. 12 (Monday). This cannot be guaranteed at this time, however."

Moser said families will be updated throughout the next two weeks and parents will also be hearing from schools pertaining to their individual students with more details.

Moser also said information regarding food service will be forthcoming on Wednesday, as well.

"This is an unfortunate situation and one we have worked diligently to avoid," Moser said. "We regret this situation, but it cannot be avoided."

The district is implementing meal service for pick-up and delivery and parents are encouraged to sign up by contacting their individual school or applying on the district's Facebook page Hiawatha Public Schools. 

The School Board met in a special session Thursday morning to discuss the situation and will meet again for a special meeting at 7 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 5 to continue monitoring the status. The meetings are available for district patrons to watch through Zoom and the district's YouTube page.

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