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North Tama shifts to remote learning, seeking further guidance from the state

Tama County positivity rate surpasses 17 percent

North Tama schools announced Sunday they would be temporarily moving all classes to remote instruction on Monday and Tuesday following data released by Tama County Public Health that showed the county's COVID-19 positivity rate was above 17 percent.

In a letter sent to parents Sunday, the North Tama County Community School District announced that classes would move from in-person to remote learning for all students on Monday, Nov. 2 and Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The letter cited a steady increase in the COVID-19 positivity rate for Tama County as the reason for the temporary measure.

As of 8 a.m. Monday, the 14-day positivity rate for Tama County is at 17.6% according to Tama County Public Health.

“This exceeds the 15% threshold for the (North Tama) district to consult with the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Department of Public Health regarding a possible temporary, short-term closure accompanied by a move to Remote Learning for all students during the period of the closure,” the letter read.

At the zip code level within the North Tama district, the city of Traer’s 3-day positivity rate is at 10.5% but its 14-day rate is at 20.2% according to Tama County Public Health.

In Clutier, the 3-day positivity rate is at 20% and the 14-day rate is at 20.1%.

Over the weekend the district contacted families and were able to distribute devices to any student who did not already have access to remote learning technology at home.

According to a second bulletin distributed over the weekend, teachers will continue on with their regularly scheduled curriculum during the period of remote learning including core subjects as well as specials such as art, music, physical education and CTE.

A decision about advancing to a two-week closure is expected to come early this week once the state education and public health departments render their guidance.

Once that decision has been made, families will be notified through the district’s text message and email notification system.

At South Tama, information released on the school’s COVID-19 data dashboard on Friday afternoon indicated between 2-10 active cases were present for students and staff district-wide. Additionally, 53 students and staff were in quarantine due to a positive test or close contact with a positive individual.

GMG schools also reported Friday between one and five positive cases were active for students and staff with 27 individuals in quarantine either due to a positive test or close contact with a person who tested positive.

Tama County Public Health announced Saturday afternoon that the county’s total COVID-19 positive case count had risen to 1135. On Saturday there were 24 new cases reported within 24 hours. The department noted Monday morning that additional cases had been reported on Sunday.

In Tama County there have been a total of 55 deaths attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic took hold.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Long Term Care Facilities Dashboard, two long term care centers in Tama County are still dealing with active outbreaks.

As of Monday morning, Sunrise Hill Care Center in Traer reported 35 total positive cases with 17 that have recovered. SunnyCrest Nursing Center in Dysart reported 11 total positive cases with four that have recovered.

Both care centers have been listed on the outbreak dashboard for multiple weeks.

Tama County Public Health issued this message Saturday along with their COVID-19 data:

“Please stay home if you do not feel well, many cases report they thought they were experiencing sinus infections, allergies or a little bit of a cold when their symptoms started. If you have been exposed, stay home. If you have tested and don’t have your results back yet, stay home.”

“Please do not attend large gatherings or hold large gatherings. Please wear a mask in public and practice social distancing. The schools, the long term care centers and health care workers beg you to make safe choices.”