It’s been a year since all schools were placed in the grip of COVID-19. Now, with three-quarters of the 2020-21 school year finished, Glenwood School Superintendent Devin Embray hopes the district can finish strong. Classes were conducted remotely for a time last fall after a spike in COVID cases. Speaking on KMA’s “Morning Line” program Monday morning, Embray says those case numbers have dwindled in recent weeks.
“Currently right now, our numbers are pretty low,” said Embray. “Our quarantine numbers are less than 4% in most buildings, and less than 2% in our high school. So, we feel pretty good about that.”
But, with a recent uptick in coronavirus cases in Mills County, Embray says the COVID-19 protocols–including face mask requirements–will remain intact for the remainder of the school year.
“We feel that until the state changes some of their guidance as far as quarantining,” he said, “that all staff masking and the students masking at all times in the buildings is the best protocol right now, until the governor changes something about quarantining. That’s the plan we’ll do until the end.”
Embray credits following the safety protocols–not to mention some luck–in helping the district get through winter sports season. That season included Glenwood High’s girls basketball team’s trip to the state tournament earlier this month.
“We followed the boys and girls association’s protocols for all of the events,” said Embray, “and that meant masking at events, and making sure students didn’t shake hands. They didn’t get together at the end. They went back to their own locker rooms. It’s been a struggle. It’s been a good experience for our teams, our kids and our community to be able to host those events, and keep them going, and not have the uptick in numbers that was projected.”
Embray once again uses the word perseverance in describing how the district’s students and staff have coped with a school year under COVID. However, the superintendent says the pandemic has had its impact on education, especially with younger children.
“We have identified a gap in our learning, especially at the first and second grade levels,” he said. “We’ve offered parents an extended summer school experience for those students to get back on track. There probably isn’t a gap at all levels, to be honest with you. However, the kids have been able to work, and to grow, and to narrow that gap as much as possible. We aren’t going to really know until standardized testing happens this spring. It’s going to happen in a few weeks. Then, we’ll be able to see where we are post pandemic versus pre pandemic in terms of where our proficiency is.”
He adds participation among the district’s staff in COVID vaccinations has been good. Roughly 80% of Glenwood’s instructors and staff have received at least one shot, and Embray expects the remaining 20% will be vaccinated in the future. You can hear the entire interview with Devin Embray on our “Morning Line” page at kmaland.com.