Below is a statement issued by the Waterloo School District:
Two Cedar Valley Metro school districts are announcing mitigation efforts around the Thanksgiving holiday. Waterloo Schools and Cedar Falls Schools are moving to virtual instruction for a period of five days. Waterloo Schools and Cedar Falls Schools will not hold in-person classes the week of Thanksgiving (Monday and Tuesday, November 23-24) and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday following Thanksgiving (November 30-December 2). Classes will be provided virtually for this period, which includes five instructional days for Waterloo and Cedar Falls, and will resume in-person classes on Thursday, December 3.
This coordinated effort is aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 due to exposures occurring around the Thanksgiving holiday. Black Hawk County Public Health supports this coordinated effort in anticipation of potential increases associated with family get-togethers.
Dr. Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye, director, stated, “Within public health, we fully understand the critical role schools play in community, but we are extremely supportive of this coordinated effort. We urge all to please practice the 3Ws, wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance. Please limit social gatherings. Social gatherings with more safety measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented. We need everybody to avoid activities that are higher risk for spread and to consider fun alternatives that pose lower risk of spreading COVID-19.” Public health will be monitoring data closely to determine the impact of this proactive approach.
Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart is supportive of this effort. “These measures are crucial for the health of our community and our ability to reduce the burden placed on the shoulders of our health care facilities,” said Hart. “All Waterloo public recreational facilities are heightening their efforts to slow the spread and limiting attendance. I encourage all residents to limit their interactions outside the home and be vigilant in their mask wearing, hygiene practices and social distancing.”
Staffing issues due to COVID cases and quarantines have been ongoing and increasing within local schools, as the number of cases rise in Black Hawk County. Superintendents have been working with local officials and County and State public health on a proactive plan.
Waterloo Schools Superintendent, Dr. Jane Lindaman, stated coordination is critical to effective mitigation across the Cedar Valley. “The data has shown that school closings, in isolation, do little to mitigate the spread. We wanted to be part of a broader effort to stem the tide of community spread across the Cedar Valley. We fully realize the burden this places on our families, and we are committed to supporting them through this effort.”
According to Cedar Falls Superintendent, Dr. Andy Pattee, “We appreciate everyone working together on this and are optimistic this short-term virtual option for our in-person learners will help slow the community spread we are seeing and allow in-person instruction to continue.”
Districts will be communicating final plans with their respective families and students during the next few days.