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Lewis Central School District facing challenges to return kids to class

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 5:19 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - As of Tuesday, there were students and staff in the Lewis Central School District who are in quarantine. District officials say COVID-19 is a very real thing and a very real concern, and the district is only a couple of weeks away from going back to school.

Face coverings will be required when they return.

The district is just a few miles away from Omaha with about 3,000 students in the district, but school officials say they have the same problems as the larger districts getting students back to class during a pandemic.

“There’s a level of frustration because some of the overarching decisions are being made and local control is being taken away,” said Lewis Central School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost.

“It still comes down to trying to create a safe environment for children and for staff. We are a small district in some regards, we also only have four school buildings. So those are highly populated school buildings,” he said.

Megan Hastie has two children in the district and thinks they need to go back to the classroom.

“They need the socialization, they need to learn. I’m not a teacher and my kids don’t learn well from online learning. So they need to get back with a teacher that knows what they’re doing,” she said.

Schools in Iowa will have in-school learning. Knost says there will be issues making sure they have enough teachers to get through the year.

“How much wiggle room do you have there with your teachers? Not a lot. Not a lot,” he said.

But the major concern is finding enough bus drivers to get the kids to school.

Transportation is the backbone of this school district. Last year, Knost says finding enough drivers was very challenging.

“We’re not in any better shape as far as staffing our transportation system which is the backbone. We’ve got four schools -- only one of those actually has walkers,” he said.

The Lewis Central Titans are practicing for what they hope will be a football season

“We’re trying to figure out what football looks like. We don’t have a whole lot of guidance from the state on what we should do. We get overarching decisions then we’re left to make the detailed structured decisions,” Knost said.

Megan is hoping everything comes together and her children are able to return to school. But school officials say they are dealing with a very fragile situation.

The Lewis Central School District covers the southern portion of Council Bluffs, rural Pottawattamie County, and a small portion of Mills County.

The district plans to go back to school Aug. 25.

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