The Mabel-Canton School Board held a regular meeting on October 20. One area of significant discussion was the ongoing increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the county and school district. As decided at the board’s September meeting, the Incident Command Team (ICT) has been given the authority to make decisions regarding which of the various learning models (in-person classes, distance learning, or some hybrid of the two) best matches with the current situation in the local area. This authority was assigned to the ICT because that group is able to convene and respond more quickly than the full school board, due to requirements of the open meeting law.
As stated in Superintendent Kuphal’s written board report, “Each month, we plan to review our learning models and discuss which model we are in or going to. As you know, we are moving from Scenario 1 to Scenario 2, Plan A. Scenario 2, Plan A is four days in-person learning and a half-day of Fridays of distance learning for K-12.”
Kuphal informed the board that while the current positivity rate indicates that Plan A would be an appropriate learning model, a higher surge of cases is expected, which may require a change to a more restrictive learning model in the near future. Kuphal stated, “The Regional Support Team is recommending, and Fillmore County is recommending, that we go to Plan B, but they said that they would support us if we went to Plan A… Michelle (Wiedemann) and I talked, and just from an administrative perspective, we’d like to stay in Plan A for another week, partly because we don’t want to be flipping and flopping.”
Kuphal said that although the ICT is currently making the decisions regarding any changes to the learning model, the board could rescind that authority at any time. Kuphal also explained that it should not be assumed that extra-curricular activities would be stopped if in-person learning is halted, since there may be particular reasons why these two areas would be dealt with differently. After discussion, no formal action was taken by the board.
Student representative Colton Heintz-Kuderer gave an update on how students are handling the challenges of this school year. He said, “It’s very split down the middle. Some students are happy with it, they’re OK with it. Then there’s those who are not, because of the WiFi issues.” Colton mentioned that teachers have been very good about making allowances for students who are having problems with internet access.
Principal Wiedemann informed the board that the school district will receive two grants to be used for technology needs. A grant of $5,000 was received from the City of Mabel, and a grant for just over $102,000 will be given from Fillmore County. Both grants are from funds allocated through the CARES Act. Wiedemann said although the school will use the funds to purchase needed technology devices, right now, those devices are hard to order, due to worldwide supply slowdowns.
The board acknowledged generous donations from the Booster Club (300 masks for students), Sheri Borcherding (M-C Cougar bleacher seat), Kelly Brenno Carpenter (375 lanyards for holding masks), Carlena Gallagher (60 sets of earbuds for use in computer labs, and 15 volleyballs for recess), and Waterloo Ridge Lutheran Church (school supplies).
The board set a special election canvassing meeting for Friday, November 13 at 8 a.m. Mabel-Canton’s next regular board meeting is set for November 17 at 6 p.m.