The Sioux City Community School District

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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.” 

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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.

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. 

U.S. Government

Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, the U.S. Ambassador to China, will step down early next month.  This will end  a three-year tenure marked by a trade war and increasingly bitter relations between the world’s two largest economies. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing says Branstad confirmed his decision in a phone call with President Donald Trump last week. It did not give a reason for his departure.

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A Sioux City man faces charges of 1st Degree Murder and Willful Injury after a double stabbing in Sioux City overnight.

First responders found a 37-year-old man and 43-year-old woman with several stab wounds.  Both went to MercyOne where the man died and the woman is being treated for serious injuries. 

The suspect was found about an hour-and-a-half later walking near 21st and Nebraska near the location of the suspected attack.

Fifty-four-year-old Michael Landrum is behind bars this afternoon at the Woodbury County Jail.

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The state of Iowa reports another 503 cases of the coronavirus as of this afternoon. State health officials also report six additional deaths. The state has had more than 39,000 cases of the COVID-19 and and nearly 800 deaths.   

Woodbury County added 20 new cases of the coronavirus since today, and it now has a total of 3,472 cases and 46 deaths.  There were no new deaths yesterday.

Nebraska added 264 new COVID-19 cases today, and twelve new deaths.  The state has had 22, 847 cases so far. 

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Iowa and Woodbury County saw some fairly large upticks in COVID-19 cases today.  Woodbury County has 17 new COVID-19 cases, with a total of 3,112 and 43 deaths.  Iowa has nearly 500 new cases and 701 deaths.  

At a news conference his afternoon, Kevin Greime director Siouxland District Health, said he was disappointed with those numbers, and the reluctance of some people to wear face masks.

This week on The Exchange . . .

We check in with Tyler Brock of Siouxland District Health about the spread of the coronavirus in Woodbury County

Also, we talk with Sioux City Community School Superintendent Paul Gausman about the ongoing school closure and efforts to keep students learning until classes resume.

And we talk with Western Iowa Tech Community College President Terry Murrell about how the school has moved all of its courses online until the end of the spring term to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed an emergency declaration designed to offer an array of relief to state residents as efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus also slow the economy. 

The state public health emergency declaration, among other things, temporarily suspends collection of property taxes, some home evictions, and certain regulation fees and penalties. It also allows bars and restaurants to sell unopened bottles of alcohol for consumption off-premises. 

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The Iowa Supreme Court has selected Susan Christensen as its new chief justice.

Christensen is from Harlan and was appointed to the court by Republican Governor Kim Reynolds in 2018.

The state’s highest court had to pick a new leader after former chief justice Mark Cady died unexpectedly in November.

Justice David Wiggins has served as acting chief since then, but Wiggins plans to retire in March.

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A second Siouxland area ethanol plant is shutting down. The first was Plymouth Energy in Merrill, and now Sioux Center-based Siouxland Energy,  a farmer-owned cooperative, has also stopped operations. The closures at both Iowa ethanol plants are temporary.   A written statement blames the Trump Administration’s waivers so ethanol doesn’t have to be blended in gasoline produced at what the board said were “many large oil refineries.” 

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Woodbury County officials could move ahead today with planning for a possible new county jail. The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors meets today to pass a motion to set a Sept. 17thdeadline for financial advisor firms to submit proposals to consult on the project.  

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Woodbury County officials say they want to move ahead with planning for a possible new county jail. The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors meets today to pass a motion to set a Sept. 17thdeadline for financial advisor firms to submit proposals to consult on the project.  

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One the state’s largest healthcare providers announced today it is pursuing a merger with South Dakota-based Sanford Health. 

West Des Moines based UnityPoint Health has a hospital and clinic in Sioux City.  The transaction should be complete by the end of this year. That’s pending regulatory reviews. The merger would make the company one of the 15 largest non-profit health systems in the country. 

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The city of Sioux City and the owner of a popular summer hangout are working together to try and come up with a resolution over a campground.

Recently, the Ickey Nickel received notice that camping on the property isn’t allowed according to city zoning laws.

Several supporters of the Ickey Nickel appeared at yesterday’s City Council meeting to keep the campsite open. 

City Council Member Rhonda Capron is one of them.