District to offer vaccine to students

A vaccination clinic for children will be offered by Iola schools. The Pfizer vaccine was recently approved for ages 5 to 11. In other news, the district is offering surplus Chromebooks for sale, and heard a report about a new focus on Career and Technical Education programs.

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November 23, 2021 - 10:25 AM

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 18: COVID-19 vaccine is stored at -80 degrees celsius in the pharmacy at Roseland Community Hospital on December 18, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. The hospital began distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to its workers yesterday. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Elementary and middle school children can get the COVID-19 vaccine at a free clinic at school on Dec. 9. 

The clinic will give an opportunity for children in the Iola district to receive the Pfizer vaccine in a way that is convenient, Superintendent Stacey Fager said. Parents were recently notified of the clinic.

“We’ll see what interest there is so we know how much resources to allocate,” Fager said.

The vaccine requires two doses. A second clinic is scheduled for Jan. 6.

The Pfizer vaccine was recently approved for children ages 5 to 11, and those age 12 and older can get the regular Pfizer vaccine. 

In Iola and other districts, children who have been exposed to COVID-19 outside the home can agree to be tested daily to remain in school.

The program is popular with parents, as most choose to have children tested so they can continue to attend classes. 

Angie Linn, principal at McKinley Elementary School, said students don’t mind the tests. In fact, they get to pick out a prize after being tested, so some of them look forward to it.

At times, many students are being tested at once. For example, a staff member tested positive last week for COVID, which meant about half the students in one class had to test every day. 

“There haven’t been any problems” with the testing procedures, Linn said.

IN THE PAST few weeks, the number of students being tested daily remained in the 20s, with 24 as of last week.

The number of students quarantined — because they were exposed in the home or because their family chose not to test — had typically been higher than those being tested, with numbers around 30. But last week, that trend reversed, with just 11 students in quarantine. 

The district had five positive cases last week.

In Kansas, six children aged 17 and younger have died from COVID-19 complications, with a total of 6,643 deaths for all ages.

Allen County has recorded 2,087 positive COVID cases since the start of the pandemic, with 27 deaths for all ages. The county currently has 9 active cases.

Chromebooks for sale

A glut of used Chromebooks will be offered for sale for just $10.

The district has about 30 of the devices, which have been wiped clean and ready for use.

Fager suggested the district offer them for a nominal fee, hoping it will appeal to families prior to the holiday gift season. The goal is “to get more technology into households.”

Board members said they wanted to prioritize low-income households, and asked if there was some way to make sure those families had the first chance to buy them.

That would present some challenges, particularly in identifying and notifying those people, Fager noted. It’s likely that families who can better afford such things already have similar devices at home, he said. 

There’s a limit of one per household.

Lisa Wicoff, an Iola High School science teacher who also serves as instructor for the anatomy and physiology class at the Regional Rural Technology Center at LaHarpe, talks about how a recent grant has impacted the district. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

CTE update

Lisa Wicoff, an Iola High School science teacher who also  teaches anatomy and physiology at the Regional Rural Technology Center at LaHarpe, gave board members an update on a Career and Technical Education grant the district received last year.

The goal is to prepare students for high-skilled, high-wage, in-demand jobs. The tech center trains students in welding, construction, wind energy and health care. IHS students also can take internships in a variety of fields.

The grant focused on helping students in special populations. Iola qualified because it has a higher percentage of students in poverty, with 26.8% compared to the state average of 14.8%.

Most of the grant requirements have been completed, but the district continues to work on the various educational components they began through the program.

The program focused on key areas such as teacher retention, training and education, and problem solving. 

A teacher retention survey found a majority, 69.3%, of district teaching staff have a master’s degree, 23.1% have a bachelor’s degree, 3.8% have a provisional degree or are working toward a bachelor’s degree, and another 3.8% do not have a bachelor’s degree but have experience. 

The district needs to educate teachers on CTE opportunities and provide more opportunities to work with students who have IEPs, or Individualized Education Programs. That especially includes training for paraprofessionals about CTE programs.

“In one classroom, I had a student not able to take a course because paras were not going to be there. I felt for him,” Wicoff said.

The district also began offering CTE “Lunch and Learn” programs to bring in speakers to talk about different professions. About 30 students have taken part in each of the three lunches offered to this point.

Wicoff also discussed a PIPE program, which stands for Program Improvement Process for Equity. The process encourages people to look at the causes of problems rather than immediately pursuing solutions. For example, the group identifies a problem then asks why again and again until they identify the root cause. 

Wicoff said the process has been very educational and helpful.

“This is something that will help me in a lot of ways,” she said.

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