Clarinda High School

(Clarinda) -- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds plans to salute a KMAland school district for its COVID-19 response this week.

Late last week, the governor's office contacted Clarinda School Superintendent Chris Bergman, indicating Reynolds is highlighting the district's efforts to keep kids in school amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic during her annual Condition of the State Speech Tuesday evening. Bergman tells KMA News the governor was curious as to how various districts were tackling COVID-related health and safety risks, and addressing students' needs--not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.

"Really, from the start, the governor has wanted students in school," said Bergman, "believing strongly that face-to-face instruction, interaction, building relationships, and really keeping in tune to our students and our families, it's really the primary priority. And so, the (governor's) team started looking for schools that either had extraordinary things happen above and beyond what might happen at a time like this, and/or looking at places that have been able to stay open face to face."

Bergman says she provided the governor's staff members information on how the district responded to the challenges, including efforts by instructors to keep each building operating during the pandemic.

"They've stood outside, they've taken temperatures, they are doing cleaning," she said. "They are going above and beyond every day."

Bergman also gave an example of Clarinda's "all hands on deck" approach to situations related to COVID.

"We were at a day where we were missing a drive for a route," said Bergman. "Often times this year, that information has been coming quite late. I actually was at a meeting. I stepped out, and started thinking through. I called Mr. (Josh) Porter, and I asked him to get his bus driver shoes on, and do a route. He does have a CDL, and he was very happy to do that. I then took over his AD duties for the morning, trying to reschedule several district events--I think we had kids going several different directions that night."

The superintendent also noted the district's decision to outsource its nursing services, under an agreement with Clarinda Regional Health Center. She adds the district's students "rock" when it comes to following COVID mitigation requirements, such as wearing face coverings when required, and physical distancing. The governor's Condition of the State speech takes place Tuesday evening at 6, and will air live on Iowa PBS.

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