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Weekly Update: August 26, 2021

Janet Stutz
Weekly Update: August 26, 2021
Dear Grinnell Newburg Board of Education, Staff, Families, and Friends:


Happy almost first full week of school. Welcome back! We are very happy to see the energy that our students and teachers have brought back to our schools. We have highlighted a few of those first days of school photos! Let’s keep every day like that first day filled with energy throughout the school year.   


This weekly update will normally be sent on Fridays each week. You are getting this a day early as we want to notify parents in K-8 that Tiger Pack sample packs will be coming home with students tomorrow.  Also this evening we invite you out to Central Park for the annual AG Day and Chicken BBQ event hosted by Grinnell Rotary and Lions Club. The tractor parade begins at 6:30 PM in Central Park. 


Tiger Packs Are Back: Sign Up!  

Friday, August 27, 2021 sample Tiger Packs will be handed out to all students in PreK-8 grade.  If you are interested in signing up for a Tiger Pack, please complete this form Tiger Pack Sign Up by September 3, 2021. Please complete the form for each student in your household. 


COVID Update:   

I am sending you information from public health about current COVID positive cases in our county broken down by city/zip code area. I am also including other information that you should review about procedures regarding notification of COVID positive results. Please read carefully.   Based upon this recent data presented, I will be implementing the following:


  1. We will begin our data dashboard again on our website. We can only report information that is provided to us by parents or staff if they are positive. We can only report data by district unless there are more than six cases in a school, then we can send a message to the school-specific families. Why is this so?  Due to FERPA, we can not inadvertently identify a student's illness. Therefore we will refer parents to the dashboard. The dashboard will have a disclaimer that states: Data reflects information that has been provided by families or staff who have tested positive for COVID. IDPH is not contract tracing or under any orders to quarantine. The school district can not enforce Quarantine. Our data reflect what has been reported to us.   

  2. We will be collecting district absences again by the district. We will have that column and any reports of a positive test.  Please keep your students home if they are ill or displaying any symptoms.  

  3. Vaccines and masks are the only way we will limit the spread of the virus. We can not mandate masks, only strongly encourage. Dr. Graham will host a listening zoom session with staff in the coming weeks. Our efforts will be to educate families and staff as much as possible with accurate up to date data and information. The number of COVID cases in July in our county was 18. Today it is 70. Polk County is reporting 120 new cases daily. We are at a 14-day rate of 7.1% and that is what has been reported from positive test results.   

  4. There is no order for contract tracing, nor is there an order for quarantining. Our schools will receive COVID tests kits in the next few days, which nurses can send home with parents to follow the procedures. They are not to be administered at school.   

  5. We should also not be telling students that they can or can not wear a certain mask; It is a student/parent's choice on what mask they send with the student as long as it complies with the dress code.  

  6. I have been notified that I am required to post our return-to-learn plan on our website. We completed a shortened document in CASA, but our edited plan still needs to be posted.  It is a working document, and we can update it as needed. You can find the new one here. 2021-22 Return to Learn On-Site learning Grinnell-Newburg School District

  7. The Board approved more air purifiers for our schools. 

  8. Dr. Graham and I will be working together to share information about what is going on in our county and state so parents can be informed.  

  9. Busing: There is a clear conflict between CDC and the State Law about masks.  It is being interpreted that masks are required.   School buses do not transport the public, only students.   

Here is the update from IDPH:

Poweshiek County Update:


  • Fully vaccinated  - 48.8%


  • Fully vaccinated State of Iowa – 48.5%


  • Total vaccine series completion by Zip Code

  • Grinnell – 6,139

  • Montezuma – 1,121

  • Guernsey – 83

  • Brooklyn – 1,202

  • Malcom – 325

  • Deep River – 220

  • Hartwick – 97

  • Searsboro – 141


  • Individuals positive – 1,667 (since the pandemic began)

  • 14-day positivity rate – 7.1%

  • 3-day positivity rate – 3.3%

  • Cases in last 14 days – 50 

  • Cases in last 3 days -11


  • Total positive cases by Zip Code since the pandemic began:

  • Grinnell – 851

  • Montezuma – 292

  • Guernsey – 25

  • Brooklyn – 262

  • Malcolm – 54

  • Deep River – 51

  • Hartwick – 16

  • Searsboro – 39


  • Total Poweshiek County cases in June - 7

  • Total cases in July – 18

  • Total cases to date in August – 68 (Earlier this week) 


FDA Fully Approves Pfizer Vaccine


U.S. FDA Fully Approves Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine for Those 16 Years and Older On Monday, August 23, 2021, FDA approved COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) for use as a two-dose series for individuals 16 years of age and older. It can also be used under the EUA to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 12 through 15 years, and provide a third dose to individuals 12 years of age and older who have been determined to have certain kinds of immunocompromise.


HHS Plan for COVID19 Booster Doses


HHS Releases Plan for COVID-19 Booster Doses for all Americans Health and Human Services (HHS) public health and medical experts released a joint statement on the plan for COVID-19 booster doses for all Americans beginning the week of September 20, 2021. At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster starting 8 months after they receive their second dose of an mRNA vaccine, (Pfizer or Moderna) unless they are eligible under the moderately to severely immunocompromised criteria. HHS, CDC, and FDA continue to study data to understand how long vaccine protection lasts. The authorized COVID-19 vaccines continue to effectively reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the highly prevalent Delta variant. Evidence has shown that over time vaccines provide less protection against mild and moderate COVID-19 disease in certain populations. People who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout might need a booster dose to continue to have the maximum protection that the vaccines provide. CDC’s independent advisory committee, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), will continue to meet and discuss data on the evolution of the pandemic and the use of COVID-19 vaccines. ACIP will make further recommendations on the use of boosters for the public after a thorough review of the evidence.


Updated Guidance on Coadministration of Vaccine


COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be co-administered without regard to timing. Until recently, COVID-19 vaccines were recommended to be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccines.


Vaccination remains the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.


Thank you,


Shauna Callaway, RN, BSN

Director of Public Health and Wellness


Unity Point Health – Grinnell

210 4th Ave

Grinnell, IA  50112

(641) 236-2551 (office)



Above and Beyond:

During the school year, the Grinnell-Newburg School District strives to highlight some of the extraordinary work that our school employees, students, and community members are doing, going above and beyond.  


We ask that community members nominate students and school employees. We will be sending a memo to the school staff on recognizing community members as well as students. We will try to recognize one employee, one student, and one community member per month at a Grinnell Newburg Board of Education meeting.


What do we need from you as a community member?  If you have a student or staff member that you would like to recognize, please send an email to aboveandbeyond@grinnell-k12.org and let us know his or her name and why he or she deserves to be recognized for going above and beyond.  


We have so many incredible things to celebrate in our district and community. We are excited to highlight the people behind those things that make our district great.  #wearegrinnell


Attention GHS students:

Are you looking for a leadership opportunity? Do you want to serve the community? 

Consider applying to join the Grinnell Newburg School Foundation! 

GNSF is accepting applications now through Friday, September 10. 

Apply here: 2021 GNSF Student Board Member Application

Questions?? Please contact Executive Director Liz Hansen at gnsfexecutivedirector@gmail.com


First Day photos!!  Thank you to all families who submitted their photos!  Welcome back!    Here are a few to share!  

21-221st day of schoolfirst day smilesnew school year

back to schoolnew yearnew school yearfiesr day 2021Gwen Lfirst day smilefamily funnew to the middle school1st gradenew school year davis elementary


Smile File:

Do you have a smile file?  A smile file is a folder that you keep in a special place in which you store memories that make you smile!  When times get challenging or tough, I pull out my smile file and it brightens my day! Awesome cards, notes, or positive notes are kept in my file.   I hope you will join me to create a smile file for the 21-22 school year for your student or yourself.   It certainly helps me when times are challenging to re-energize and remember how fortunate I am to be in this awesome community!   


Next week events:

To access the Activities Calendar, click here.


Girls Varsity swim meet is being held at BEAR Athletic Center on Grinnell College's campus this evening.  If you are attending, you must wear a mask in the center as the College is requiring it.  


Have an awesome weekend!  Watch for the weekly update to resume on Fridays beginning next week!




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