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USD 398 District Update
USD 398 District Update
Ron Traxson
Friday, November 13, 2020

To the Students, Parents & Community Members of Peabody and Burns,

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Marion County, and virtually everywhere in this state & nation, we know that USD 398 is not immune to having to deal with concerning the complications that come with this pandemic.

I feel fortunate that we have been able to avoid a single positive case in the school until last week. It was then the district experienced its first with a HS student. Since this time we have seen another student and two staff members listed as positive cases. As our records reflect, we do not attribute any of the cases of contraction to the school setting, nor have we established transmission within the school setting. After 10 weeks we have had a cumulative total of 4 active cases (4/320=1.25%). This number is based on all of the district’s students and staff.

Current quarantined students and personnel make the effect seem high, but these numbers reflect steps that are mainly precautionary. These individuals include those who have been affected by household and non-household contact with a positive COVID-19 person outside the school setting, as well as the precautionary student contact in the school. To date, our understanding is that those quarantined due to contact with positive cases have not resulted in positive cases themselves.

Recently PBHS (9-12) went to remote learning until after Thanksgiving Break in an effort to stifle spread concerning our most active students. If all number stay static, this is how it will play out;

  • As of Monday, Nov. 16 our quarantined numbers will be down to 15% of all students/staff
  • As of Monday, Nov. 23 our quarantined numbers will be down to 3.4% of all students/staff
  • As of Monday, Nov. 30 our quarantined numbers will be @ 0% of all students/staff

These numbers have been held in check by the heroic efforts of our educational community of teachers, staff, and administration. Every single individual is working above and beyond in their job description in order to provide a learning environment that is safe and effective. Teachers are planning and providing dual platform learning with in-class and remote learning. Extra cleaning, disinfecting, and safety procedures by ALL staff members, as well as staff and students diligently wearing their masks and following established guideline has minimized the spread of the virus in the school setting.

Throughout my time that I have been a part of this community and school district, I have maintained a sense of gratitude for the support this community provides for our schools in good times as well as challenging times.  Without question, these are challenging times.  Every person in this community should (and I believe they do) have an infinite amount of respect for those in the trenches doing the work of education. We could not find seven more committed volunteers to serve in our best interest on our school board. Our teachers continue to be pushed to the brink and respond day after day for students.  Our support staff of maintenance/custodians, food service, clerical, para-professionals, substitute teachers and transportation show up all day every day to make it all happen.   

We know our student’s social-emotional health and academic success is best served in our buildings. Nothing can replace the teacher in the room and we have great ones. It is with that in mind that the district painstakingly monitors and evaluates the situation and follows the District’s Re-Opening Plan as a guide to evaluate this and determine a change in course determined by the situation at hand. As part of this plan district maintains an open channel with the Marion County Health Department in regards to following CDC and KDHE guidelines in an effort to provide not only the best academic option for our students, but the safest.

It is clear the school cannot mitigate the spread on our own. We continue to do our part and if the doors are to remain open and keep the economy open, it is incumbent upon all of us to do our part.  Thanksgiving and Christmas will most likely be the determining factor for our success until a vaccine arrives. In fact, the greatest threat going forward is our ability to keep our teachers healthy.

It is our plans to resume in-building learning with the HS after break. We also will resume suspended practices and plans for game at this time. Whether this happens or not depends on how careful families are over the break in avoiding situations that increase the risk of exposure. So please remember;

                        1)  Avoid large group gatherings,

                        2)  Wear your masks,

                        3)  Socially Distance w/masks, and

                        4)  Wash your hands.


In the Interest of our Kids,

Ron Traxson

Superintendent of Schools

USD 398 Peabody-Burns