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Pleasant Valley Schools to continue hybrid-learning model

Superintendent Brian Strusz says if teacher absences increase, the district will file for a remote learning waiver from the state.

RIVERDALE, Iowa — Pleasant Valley School District students will remain in the classroom through the district's hybrid-learning model for the foreseeable future. But Superintendent Brian Strusz says he knows nothing is completely certain. 

"This whole thing now with higher numbers in the community (has) caused a wrench to be thrown in what we're doing," he says. 

Superintendent Strusz says only about eight percent of students and staff are absent right now, and that's why the district is sticking with hybrid-learning for now. 

"80 percent of the cases for students who are out with COVID-19 or quarantining are because of outside-of-the-school-building contacts, either with a family member or at social gatherings," Superintendent Strusz says. "In school we believe we're safe."

Students and staff in the district are required to wear a face mask during the day, and the district is operating on an "A and B schedule" so less students are in the building on a daily basis. 

A full-remote learning waiver for the state is filled out and ready to go if the district can't get enough substitute teachers to cover the classrooms. Throughout this school year, about 40 teachers have been absent per day. The district has a pool of about 25 substitute teachers to bring in, and every classroom does not need a substitute.

"We want to remain open if we can," Superintendent Strusz says. "We get if we don't have the substitutes, we may have to close down for a period of time." 

Ms. Bailey Trondson teachers English and Critical Writing, and she says she knows the plan can change at any moment. 

"Hybrid-learning has been a new experience for all of us, and my students are handling it very well," she says. "We're always looking out for their best safety needs and concerns. If we go full remote, we'll get through it, but it'll be challenging." 

The district's plan could change at a moment's notice. Superintendent Strusz says he understands students may need to leave the classroom, but he hopes that's not the case. 

"We know the best learning happens when students are in the classrooms every single day. That's why we want to stay," he says. "We also know because we're keeping kids safe in school. We're not seeing the transmission between people. When they're outside in the public, there's a larger change of being transmitted from somebody they're running into, either a family member or a friend."