The Superior Express -

School leaders attempt to calm COVID-19 panic


October 15, 2020

The Superior Public School parking lots are nearly empty this week. Students are once again working virtually from home because of COVID-10. A Coronavirus advisory hangs on the main entrance at the senior high. It reads:"(Closed except for some areas) COVID 19 (Coronavirus) Advisory. All school grounds and facilities are closed 24 hours per days, seven days a week to unauthorized persons until further notice. Unauthorized entry or use is considered trespass. Excepted for this notice are: (contractors, delivery truck drivers, staff and invited guests) , on the condition that you maintain a minimum of six feet of social distance from other individuals an the district has not cleaned any outside surfaces or equipment and makes no representations as to the cleanliness or safety of any surface or equipment. Access is enter at your own risk. The district reserves the right to close all property at any point in time. Please contact Marty Kobza at 402-87903257, extension 127, with questions or for additional information regarding this notice.

With a sign posted on the front door warning "Enter at your own risk" members of the Superior Board of Education met Monday evening in the Superior High School library for the regular October meeting. All members of the board were present except for Peggy Meyer. All wore masks except for Matt Sullivan and Matt Bargen. Neither Bob Cook, nor Doug Hoins, principals, were present.

Amelia Benjamin and Donna Wilt addressed the board during public presentation period. Benjamin opposes the board's decision to stop virtual learning. She said she is working with several low income families with legitimate health concerns for family members and asked the board to consider financially assisting families who choose to home school.

Donna Wilt said, if the board does not reverse their decision related to virtual learning, she will need to home school her daughter because of anxiety and health issues related to a shoulder.

Kevin Miller, high school athletic director, was on the agenda to discuss bowling as an exploratory sport. However, Miller was not present. Supt. Kobza reported 13 students have indicated an interest in bowling. The school would use the local facilities and equipment. He asked the board to wait until a later date to take action.

There were no students present, thus the student ambassador report was not presented.

Claims from the general fund for September in the amount of $587,374.53 were approved.

The ALICAP school safety inspection was reviewed. It recommends hand rails be installed on a set of bleachers at the football field.

Business action items included accepting the certified resignation of Shellie Mueller at the end of the 2020-2021 school year and recognizing the Superior Education Association as the sole bargaining agent for the 2022-2023 school year. Bargaining for the coming school year will begin by Nov. 1. In addition, a return to work agreement for classified staff was approved. The agreement lets the district continue to pay non-certified staff even though they may not be at work when the school is closed because of COVID. In exchange for the benefits, the non-certified staff who sign the contract agree to not seek other employment during the school year.

Since the principals were not present, Supt. Kobza reviewed their reports which focused on parent teacher conferences and student testing. Elementary participation was up slightly, while secondary participation was down significantly.

Supt. Kobza gave an update on COVID. Monday evening, there were 21 students and nine staff members who had tested positive for COVID-19. Two are elementary students who are asymptomatic. The majority are upper level secondary students. The nine staff members include both certified and non-certified staff. All students are now required to wear masks. This will be reevaluated November 1.

All in-person classes were canceled this week and students are meeting via the internet or working from printed packets under the direction of staff.

"Friday we had lots of panic, lots of students gone and COVID-19 tests pending. We decided to close school for a week, clam down, get all the tests back and sort out the data. All the tests should be back Wednesday (yesterday) and we will make decisions on Thursday (today)," Supt. Kobza said. "We also need a picture of what is going on in the community."

Monday, Supt. Kobza participated in a conference call which included area school districts, cities, the health department, and ESU 9. The conclusion: School is the best place for students where they wear masks, are reminded to social distance and practice good hygiene. Being in school helps protect the most vulnerable members of our society -the children's grandparents, who are often called upon for child care when school is closed.

"I have received e-mails from several students today, asking that we not do this for more than a week. Students want to be in school," Kobza continued.

Supt. Kobza said, "Brodstone has done a nice job assisting this week. For example, they ordered lots of rapid COVID tests to help us know what is happening. Most of the COVID-19 in the school can be traced to what is happening in the community. There were two hospitalized over the weekend. They were dismissed and two admitted today. Brodstone has room for five. Mary Lanning is feeling more pinched. There is high concern among health professionals of what things will look like two to three weeks from now. COVID-19 cases seem to be popping throughout the South Heartland Health District."

Supt. Kobza also talked about crisis flip charts which are mounted by the entry door light switch of each classroom. "Studies indicate people tend to freeze in a crisis," Supt. Kobza said. "These charts give short simple directions to help people stay in their lane and respond should there be a crisis."

Information concerning an electronic score board continues to be gathered and evaluated.

After 40 minutes, the board entered into executive to consider the purchase of a specific property. A description of the property or a reason for its purchase was not discussed in public session.


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