Red Oak deals with COVID ripple effect | News

(Red Oak) — Red Oak school officials are considering a switch to remote learning because of the rising coronavirus numbers.

Discussion on that possible option took place at Monday night’s Red Oak School Board meeting. School officials announced Sunday that all co-curricular or extracurricular student, staff or community activities–including lessons, practices, performances or meetings–are being shut down until Friday, November 20th. While saying the district has experienced “a handful” of student and staff COVID cases, Red Oak Superintendent Ron Lorenz tells KMA News the move was made because of the coronavirus community spread in Montgomery County.

“You know, we haven’t had as many cases as a lot of districts,” said Lorenz, “so we consider ourselves very fortunate in that regard. But, we’ve had a number. We’ve had not just people who have fallen ill with the coronavirus, but also people who have been subject to quarantine, people that have been subject to quarantine, people who have been subject to daycare closures, and the like. So, there has been a ripple effect on a variety of fronts.”

Lorenz, however, says the spike in COVID cases may prompt a switch to on-line learning.

“We have had a number of teachers that have, as we said before, been impacted by coronavirus,” he said. “Our positivity rate here in Montgomery County is climbing. Our student absentee rate is getting up there. So, we’re taking a very serious look at whether we need to go to remote learning for a couple of weeks, just to make sure we can get ahead of this thing, and hopefully stem the tide. So, we’ll have more information on that in the next few days.”

Activities postponed this week included Wednesday’s scheduled Veterans Day ceremonies and Red Oak High School’s fall play scheduled for this weekend. Lorenz says the decision to postpone both events was tough.

“We just felt like given the circumstances,” said Lorenz, “given the dangers of getting people together in fairly close proximity, it just wasn’t worth the risk. And, the fact that we had students planning to perform in an indoor setting, we just didn’t feel comfortable with that.”

However, Lorenz says the high school is considering alternative methods of presenting the play.

In other business, the board reelected Bryce Johnson as board president and Roger Erickson as vice president in the reorganization meeting for the 2020-21 school year. The board also approved the resignations of Ryan Gelber as Red Oak High School head football coach, Shauna Berendes as paraeducator and Robin Jones as Inman Elementary School secretary, and the contract of Dave Carlson as Title 1 paraeducator at Inman Elementary for the remainder of the school year.

Ron Lorenz was a guest on KMA’s 7:05 a.m. newscast. You can hear the full interview as a bonus on our “Morning Line” page at kmaland.com.

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