The growing number of COVID-19 cases that showed up in Carver County Public Health reports last week is being mirrored in some school buildings in School District 110.
After flattening out in recent weeks, numbers are up again, with 19 new cases being reported last Monday, Nov. 8, and 55 by the end of last week. Most recent cases have been showing up in Laketown Elementary, Superintendent Pat Devine told the school board at its latest meeting early last week, which pushed two classes into quarantine and led to Laketown going to all masks in the middle of the week as a mitigation strategy as the numbers continued to climb.
In regard to other mitigation efforts, with the approval and availability of a COVID-19 vaccine for 5-11-year-old children, Carver County Public Health plans to hold specific COVID-19 vaccine clinics with the Pfizer vaccine for children K-12.
ISD 110 expects to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Southview Elementary on Tuesday, Nov. 23, and Tuesday, Dec. 14. Times had yet to be confirmed as of early this week and more details are expected to follow. The clinic is voluntary and parents will need to be present, according to Sara Eischens, district health services manager.
Meanwhile, even before the pandemic, finding substitute teachers has been a challenge for all school districts, and Waconia is no exception. There are several reasons. One, the sub shortage reflects a general teacher shortage, with demographic shifts and retiring baby boomers, say education leaders. At the same time, the pandemic means teachers may be absent more often if they need to quarantine or care for family members. That’s compounded by the fact that many substitutes, often retired teachers, have been leery of returning to the classroom.
Last Monday the school board agreed to two actions to try to fill vacancies and take the pressure off existing teachers and staff.
Waconia schools will create a dual-purpose security monitor position to provide student supervision when needed due to a lack of substitutes and other security monitoring duties on other occasions. The approach is expected to be revenue-neutral because dollars that would have been spent hiring substitute teachers will now fund this new security monitor position.
The district is also looking at creating up to two “super-sub” positions with substitute teachers filling those positions getting guaranteed teaching hours rather than just a call when needed. The super-substitutes would fill last minute, unfilled assignments.
In financial matters, the district recently received a $547,000 grant to address pandemic related expenses.
In other matters, the board officially welcomed new interim board member Brian Rothstein, who took the oath of office last Monday. Rothstein, who previously served on the board from 2010-2018, was selected earlier this fall to rejoin the board to fill a vacancy left by the departure of John Weinand. By statute there was a 30-day waiting period for the appointment to become official.
The board also welcomed new student representatives for the 2021-2022 school year, seniors Kate Schutte and Jack McCarty. Student reps share their perspectives on student life with the board during the school year, and in turn learn about school board issues and school operations.