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PCM Explorer

PCM COVID update

Superintendent addresses increased positivity rate in county

Following the continued recent increase of the COVID-19 positivity rate in Jasper County, PCM Superintendent Michelle Havenstrite released a information on how the district is moving forward. For now, the schools will remain in a face-to-face learning environments with additional mitigation strategies implemented.

“Our administration team and directors met to review and discuss the PCM Return-to-Learn plan and our current mitigation efforts. Our commitment remains strong to ensure students and staff are in a safe, face-to-face learning environment, if possible,” Havenstrite said. “I (also) met with Jasper County Public Health professionals and area superintendents to discuss the situation in our county. According to the JCPH nurse, school districts are doing a great job and the outbreaks are not coming from within the school setting.”

She did note the county and state are predicting the numbers will continue to rise until February due to increased social gatherings.

At PCM, the board adopted a Return to Learn Plan with two key indicators that would cause the district to consider moving to a hybrid learning setting. The markers include a 15 to 20 percent positivity rate in the county on average over the past 14 days and 10 percent COVID-rated absenteeism among students and staff in the building or 20 percent across the district.

“At this time, we hit only one of these markers. Today’s absenteeism rate, COVID related, by district is 3 percent,” Havenstrite said. “Please note the secretaries, school nurses and administration team monitor this daily.

The district also plans to increase the implemenation of mitigation strategies at the schools. Those strategies include:

1. Additional restrictions on outside visitors in school buildings. No volunteers, with the exception of volunteer coaches who have been approved by the district office. No meetings or gatherings in school buildings (PTA/PTO/Boosters, banquets, etc.)

2. School board meetings will be held virtually until further notice. (No outside guests)

3. Spectators at all PCM hosted extra-curricular activities will be limited to household members only until Jan. 4, 2020. We will do our best to provide live stream and virtual options if feasible. (Guidelines will be forthcoming from activities director Greg Bonnett)

4. Continue to strongly encourage parents to transport students to and from school and extracurricular activities as much as possible.

5. Youth sports that utilize the PCM facilities — at this time, we are limiting attendance to ONLY authorized coaches and registered participants. Parents/guardians should not be in the building observing and must wait outside the school building for pick up. Spectator attendance will be limited at PCM hosted competitions — additional guidance will be forthcoming.

All of the restriction are effective immediately.

“At this time, we, administration and directors, firmly believe that having students in a face-to-face learning setting with increased mitigation strategies (mask mandate, social distancing, limiting outside visitors) is the safest and best learning environment,” Havenstrite said. “However, with that being said, this could change quickly should the data change. I am urging all parents and families members to begin to prepare now for a possible transition to a hybrid or remote learning setting.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com

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