The Northeast Community School District submitted a request Wednesday morning to the Iowa Department of Education for permission to temporarily move to remote learning for all Northeast Elementary students due to rising COVID-19 cases among staff and students.

Superintendent Neil Gray said in a letter to parents and other constituents that he has no doubt the request will be granted, and the move to online learning will be in effect Friday through Nov. 24. The request did not include the middle-high school.  

“This was not an easy decision,” Gray wrote. “We understand that it places additional burden on students, families and staff. We simply cannot safely meet our elementary students’ learning needs under the current circumstances at school and in our community.”

Gray shared the following numbers for elementary students, staff and teachers who are in quarantine, isolation or out waiting for a close contact’s test results: 10 teachers (out of 35) or 29%; 6 associates (out of 23) or 26%; 121 students (out of 401) or 30%. He also noted that 33 positions in the elementary school have been unfilled in the last two weeks.

The rolling 14-day average of positive COVID-19 cases was 26.2% in Clinton County and 31.1% in Jackson County on Wednesday morning, according to figures released by the Iowa Department of Health.

School districts may request to go to 100% online learning for two weeks if their counties have a 15% positive COVID-19 rate in a two-week period and 10% of students are absent, according to guidelines set by Gov. Kim Reynolds, the IDPH and the Iowa Department of Education. Districts in counties with 20% and above may also request temporarily closing buildings or the whole district.

Parents/guardians of Northeast elementary students will be receiving more detailed information from the school. Free breakfast and lunch will still be available for pick-up for all elementary students during this period of online learning. A limited supply of hot spots also is available for those with internet access issues.