COVID-19 UPDATE 12-31-2020

December 31st, 2020
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NCA Community,

Happy Holidays from all the staff at New Century Academy! I hope your break has been an enjoyable one and we all look forward to the new year. I will share just a few details with you about our return on January 4th and the weeks following. There is good new to share!

Case rates across the county and state continue to decline at a steady pace. We are looking closely at case rate information related to age moving forward. This data will be more important than overall case rate data when making decisions about our learning model. I will continue to work closely with school staff and our regional support team to react appropriately. I want you all to know that it is my goal to get all of our students back to school on a daily basis. Social distancing, sanitary practices and mask wearing will continue to be critical to keeping our students in school and our staff healthy and available. Currently the most recent case rate in McLeod County is 88.76 as of today. This number is projected to be in the 50’s next week. When looking at case rates specific to two age groups (5-11 years old, 12-18 years old) we see a much different case rate number. All the communities that we serve have case rates for both age groups at or below 5. This is good news and will inform my decisions moving forward. We will continue to keep a close eye on case rates for the age groups we serve. Here’s the plan for NCA:

January 4th: New Century Academy will continue distance learning. This has been strongly recommended by the state and the county to mitigate any issues that might arise from group gatherings that may have occurred over the break. This week of distance learning gives us the time we need to allow any exposures from the holiday celebrations to expire.

January 11th: ALL students will return to in-person learning and a normal daily schedule of classes. Those families who continue to  choose distance learning after January 11th will see a slight modification in their daily scheduling. This is to accommodate the directive we received from the Governor and the Department of Education to separate the in-person learning from the distance learning. This means that a teacher cannot be required to teach in-person students at the same time the teacher would be teaching distance learners. This will require a modification in how we deliver instruction for distance learners. We will make every attempt to keep a consistent schedule in order to give our distance learners the best possible education that we can. Teachers and admin staff will work on this during the week of January 4th and communicate the modification for distance learners by the end of that week.

January 18th and beyond: My plan is to continue in-person learning for the remainder of the year. I will be working with the regional support team and watching the case rate numbers by age moving forward. As long as those numbers stay low, we will continue in the in-person model. This being said, please understand that there are a couple circumstances that could change this plan. One would be if the governor closes schools or forces us to all be in distance learning. The other is if our staff is able to stay healthy and present in school. In the event that staff are sent home for symptoms or for testing positive, we will do all that we can to monitor the classroom with other staff and have the teacher teach from their quarantine location remotely, if they are able.

I would encourage all students to return to the school building on January 11th. We understand that there may be circumstances at home that would still prevent a student from returning to school. We also understand that returning to school may be too much of a risk for a family who lives with an at-risk population. New Century Academy will continue to do all that we can to provide the best possible education, however it is more difficult to provide the same quality to a distance learner when compared to an in-person learner. There has already been a significant learning deficit for many students. Work completion and attendance have been a major challenge for all students when in a distance learning situation. It is very difficult to control the quality and engagement in learning when that learning occurs in your home or off campus. We are extremely grateful for the effort parents and relatives have made to help their students learn at home.

I hope you all enjoy the New Year celebrations and have a restful and restorative weekend. We look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Jason Becker, Director

New Century Academy

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