Going Viral: Lessons Learned During the Pandemic

Woodbury Central School District

The community of Moville, Iowa and the Woodbury Central School District is grieving the loss of a beloved middle school social studies teacher and volleyball coach. 

Siouxland Public Media reached out to Woodbury Central School Board Member Donny Reblitz who shares more information about the life of 53-year-old Cherie Dandurand.

Reblitz is a contributor to the Siouxland Public Media Special Project “Going Viral: Lesson’s Learned During the Pandemic.

This week on The Exchange, we have a roundtable discussion about the effects of the Coronavirus on schools, students, teachers and families. Siouxland Public Media's Mary Hartnett and Sheila Brummer speak with the families we have been following this fall semester. Each family has children enrolled in Siouxland public or private school. Our guests are Donna Behrens, Pam Venturi and Mandy Engle-Cartie. Engle-Cartie is the executive director of Girls Inc.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Sioux City Community School Board took action to try and slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep students and staff safe.  Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer with a wrap-up of last night’s meeting.

The Sioux City Community School Board unanimously voted Monday night to return to hybrid learning after Winter Break on January 4, 2020. 

The district started the first two-weeks with students either attending class on Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday.

Siouxland District Health Department

The first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in all three Siouxland States.

Siouxland District Health says Woodbury County will receive almost 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the next few days for front-line health care workers.  Director Kevin Grieme admits the vaccine will only cover about 50% initially needed.

Other doses will come in phases and the national pharmacy network will distribute additional doses to long-term care facilities.

When the vaccine by Moderna gets the go-ahead there will be 400 doses for EMS workers in Woodbury County.


The Sioux City Community School Board meets tonight and the issue of education during the COVID-19 pandemic will be a likely discussion.

Two board members sent the superintendent a letter last week calling for more transparency in reporting COVID-19 cases.  They believe they’re not seeing the full picture when it comes to absentee rates due to virus-related quarantines.

“There’s more doubt from what we are hearing from teachers and parents.” 

Bernie Scolaro

West High School Counselor Bernie Scolaro talked to SPM's Sheila Brummer about her personal battle with COVID-19 and thoughts on school safety.

Scolaro has worked at West High School for more than 20 years and also spent time at Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools and at Catholic Charities as a counselor.  She is the current Vice President of the Siouxland Uniserv Unit for teachers and is the Past President of the Sioux City Education Association.

Dan Greenwell and Taylor Goodvin

Two members of the Sioux City Community School Board say the district needs to be more transparent when it comes to releasing information about COVID-19 so they can make informed decisions during the pandemic.  A weekly report is expected tomorrow.

One of the two members, Dan Greenwell, talked to SPM’s Sheila Brummer about concerns he shares with board member Taylor Goodvin.

Full statement from the Sioux City Community School District:


The debate continues on K-12 education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowa’s Governor wants to keep students in class.  A recent survey teachers in the Sioux City Community School district showed only 10% wanted to continue with in-person learning.  Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer explores the issue with a couple of long-time educator, union leader and school administrator.

Lesa Banks

Trying to keep students educated during this age of COVID-19 has been a strain.  A strain for young people, their families, educators and staff in school districts across the region and here in Sioux City. 

Lesa Banks, a long-time art teacher in Sioux City, serves as a liaison for the local teachers’ union and the Iowa State Education Association as an exeutive board member for Siouxland Uniserv. Banks tells Siouxland Public Media teachers would rather have students in school but safety should be the highest priority.  


The head of the Sioux City Education Association again expressed concern about school buildings being used as voting locations.

During Monday night’s Sioux City Community School Board meeting, union leader Kris Snavely urged board members to change future calendars to give students the day off during major elections. She suggested teachers participate in a professional development workday instead.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Sioux City Community School District addressed increasing absences with staff and students due to COVID-19.  Even though no official action was taken, Siouxland Public Media's Sheila Brummer has more on the increasing concern with some school leaders when it comes to keeping students and staff safe.

Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Paul Gausman says some buildings in the district are getting close to moving to virtual learning only.

The state of Iowa allows a school district to move to virtual learning if the 14-day positivity rate exceeds 15% with 10% absentee rates. 

Today we have an update from the Reblitz family in Moville. Their two school-age children attend Woodbury Central Schools.  Their father Donny Reblitz is on the school Board.  Their mother Stacey teaches at the elementary school.  Today we learn that their son Jackson tested positive for COVID-19 and had some serious symptoms.

For several weeks into the school year, the family had not been affected by the coronavirus, but recently, their son Jackson became ill and tested positive for the virus.

Sioux City Community School Board Member Perla Alarcon-Flory provides Siouxland Public Media with an update on the battle her family faces with COVID-19 .  She shared her story with Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer.

Perla Alarcon-Flory says her family, including husband and two daughters started coming down with symptoms of COVID-19 about two-weeks ago.  Her husband’s condition progressively got worse with high fevers and vomiting.  

Nathan Flory ended up in the ER over the weekend, before an ambulance took him to a hospital in Omaha for testing and treatment.

Perla Alarcon-Flory

One Sioux City Community School Board member and her family are in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Perla Alarcon-Flory joined Monday night’s board meeting by phone and expressed her support to move to hybrid learning for students and staff in the district due to increasing cases of the virus in schools across the district.

Alarcon-Flory shares her experience with COVID-19 and the impact of the disease on her life and her thoughts on providing students with the best educational opportunity during the pandemic.

Another family taking part in the Going Viral series is the Marquez family.  They live in Sioux City. Daisy Marquez is the mother of four children.  Two of them, girls, are learning virtually while spending time Girls, Inc.    

Daisy says the Girls, Inc. program has made it easy for her girls to learn distantly.

Pam Venturi

Pam Venturi is a single mother of five between the ages of nine and 15.  All of her children attend Catholic school in Sioux City.  One battles lupus and stays at home for learning.  She talked to Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer about the school year and what she does to try and unwind during this stressful time. 

More information on the Pet Rock Band can be found here.

As part of our continuing series, "GOING VIRAL: Lessons Learned During the Pandemic," we once again speak with Donny and Stacey Reblitz of Moville.  Donny is on the Woodbury Central School Board and Stacey teaches in the elementary school.

Stacey and Donny talk about their fears about the lack of a facemask requirement at the schools.  Their son Jackson had to stay home for a week in quarantine after he had contact with a another student who tested positive for the coronavirus.  

Donny Reblitz in on the Woodbury Central School District School Board and his wife Stacey is a teacher in the elementary school.  They have a unique perspective on how issues like facemask mandates affect students, teachers and families.  Their children Sadie and Jackson learned this first hand, when Jackson had contact with a fellow student who tested positive for the Coronavirus. 

This week on The Exchange, we have an update on our project, "GOING VIRAL": Lessons Learned During the Pandemic."

I asked my daughter Katie what she thought about the hybrid system that was in place in the Sioux City schools.  She found it difficult to feel connected to instructors and other students.  Katie is back now in person at North Middle School.

In this interview for the GOING VIRAL project, I talk with Donny Reblitz of Moville. We  meet Donny and he tells us about his family.  His wife Stacey Reblitz is a para-professional at Woodbury Central Schools.  Their two younger children Sadie and Jackson attend school there.  Donny is on the school board.  

Donny talks about his concern for his children's and his wife's safety.  Stacey works in the elementary school.  

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

A school year started with uncertainty.  Will cases spike with children back in the classroom?  How will parents be able to navigate changes that might emerge with the need to protect the community?  

One thing as a parent you might notice is the excitement for students to return class and their friends. 

Siouxland Public Media's Sheila Brummer discovered that while driving her seven-year-old to school for the first time since March 13th.  

Pam Venturi

Pam Venturi of Sioux City, is a single mother of five between the ages of 9 and 15.  One battles lupus and stays at home for school. All the children attend Catholic school in Sioux City. 

Pam set up a hidden recording to talk about their experiences the first week of school.  You’re going to hear an edited and sometimes chaotic version of their conversation over Chinese food with Antonia, Bernadette, Nico, Maria Paola and Kateri.

Pam Venturi

COVID-19 created chaos for school districts, educators and of course parents.  The Venturi family includes Pam Venturi, who is a single mom to five school-aged children.  The kids who range in age from 9 to 15 plan to attend class in-person and virtually.

The night before school started, Pam talked to her family about going back school for the first time in several months. 

Donna Behrens

Students in the Sioux City Community School District returned to the classroom full time in September 8, 2020 after doing a hybrid model for the first two weeks. 

During hybrid learning, students either attended school two days a week in person (Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday) for two days a week.  They work on lessons at home the other dayss.  Families can still choose to keep their children home.

Donna Behrens

“It’s becoming a little real and that concerns me.” - Donna Behrens, Sioux City mother and Perry Creek PTA President.

Donna and Tate Behrens provided Siouxland Public Media's Sheila Brummer with an update almost a week after the school year started.  

The Siouxland Public Media project, “Going Viral: Lessons Learned During the Pandemic” provides insight with families, teachers, school leaders during a year of educational uncertainty due to COVID-19.

Donna Behrens

The Siouxland Public Media project, “Going Viral: Lessons Learned During the Pandemic” provides insight with families, teachers, school leaders during a year of educational uncertainty due to COVID-19.

The Behrens family of Sioux City consists of Donna and Todd and their son, Tate.  Donna is the current Perry Creek Elementary School President; a post she's held for several years.  Todd is the Director of the Sioux City Art Center.  Tate just started 5th grade at Perry Creek.

Coming up on The Exchange, a Woodbury County judge last week invalidated more than 50 thousand prefilled absentee ballot request forms about sixty days out from the November election, after a lawsuit filed by the GOP and President Trump's campaign. The plaintiffs argue that Secretary of State Paul Pate decreed that only unpopulated absent ballot requests could be sent out.