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Dear Fellow Citizens of the Vinton-Shellsburg District,

This letter represents my thoughts alone and does not necessarily represent the opinion of other board members or an official position of the School Board.

School is back in session and we now have begun our third school year dealing with COVID. Despite the challenges and the unknown, last year quite frankly went about as well as possible given the circumstances. We kept kids safe (and largely healthy), we kept schools open, and we had a bit of normalcy for our kids in the midst of some extraordinary and stressful times. We did not do this alone; we did it with your help, as a community, and now we again need your assistance.

Like any community, we don't all see eye to eye all of the time, perhaps not even any of the time. We have different and strongly-held opinions and beliefs, but we went through a tough year together and remained civil and respectful of each other. Despite our differences, we all do have some things in common. We all want to keep our children safe, we all want kids to learn and we all want this to be over-- to return to some sense of normalcy. But understandably, we may see both the current situation and the answers as to how to accomplish these goals somewhat differently.

Despite a lot of time reading and talking to experts, there is much I still don't know. But here are some things that I do know:

* The Delta variant of this virus is much more likely to impact kids. It creates more symptoms in kids like runny noses, sneezing and coughing, which creates more spread. We are seeing that now.

* We believe we have experienced community spread in the schools this year. To the best of our knowledge, we are aware of no such instances last year. Spread we are unaware of may have occurred asymptomatically. But out of all the kids quarantined due to close contact with a positive person last year at school, not one of them subsequently tested positive during their quarantine.

* As I type this on the first day of September, we currently have 13 kids out with confirmed COVID cases. This is more than we had at any single point last year. Ten days into the school year, we have more kids out with COVID at one time than we did even last winter when the pandemic was at its peak. And the cold and flu season isn't even on us yet.

* The district continues to offer sanitation supplies, perform contact tracing and notification, and has testing kits available - but 6-foot physical distancing in our classrooms is not possible. And we do not mandate, but we do recommend masks be worn.

What can you do to help keep our kids safe and schools open?

* If your kids are sick, or exposed to someone who has COVID, please keep them home.

* Remind them to wash their hands and use hand sanitizers that we provide.

* When they are on the bus or at school, tell them that you want them to wear a mask, particularly when they are close to others and particularly if they are not vaccinated.

* If your kids are old enough to be vaccinated, please consider doing so.

By the time you read this, we will hopefully have our COVID data dashboard back up on the school website so you can see the number of cases and the impact COVID is having. There are all sorts of rumors starting to swirl around - many of which are not accurate or have become exaggerated. Right now, the sky is not falling. But as tired of this as we all are, the virus is still here and we are at a critical point very early in the school year. How we handle this as a community, not just as a school district, will impact our ability to keep kids in school, learning and safe.

Please stay well everyone.

Rob Levis

President, VS School Board


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judy trygstad September 2, 2021, 10:27 am Thanks for your update Rob. I am also relieved to see the Covid dashboard coming back. Accurate information is the best way to handle rumors that may be out there. I would also be interested in what mitigation measures are happening at the elementary schools. (i.e. separate lunch areas, school assemblies, etc.)
Valerie Bearbower September 2, 2021, 11:59 am With all do respect Mr. Levis, I can guarantee you these are the facts our corrupt government are giving you. You obviously did not do any research beyond mainstream media & Google which are regulated by the government, & the White House has already said they are censoring all information that goes against their agenda. If you go on the CDC website you can see for yourself that the flu kills more people every year than this disease. This is the breaking point right here, this is how they are going to take the rest of our freedoms. If you go along with any of these mandates, you are breaking the law. Mandates are NOT law. Enough is enough! Our First Amendment rights are blatantly being stomped all over & we the people, the parents must stand up & fight now!!! Go ahead, think I'm crazy, but you will learn the truth very soon & boy is it going to sting. I strongly recommend anyone reading this to go to duckduckgo, rumble, cloutdub, or anywhere else that you can find information that is NOT regulated or censored by our government. Listen to 93.3 or from 9-11am Mon.-Fri., & listen to the truth! Do you not see what's going on in Australia, & other countries? Do you not see that they are already trying to rip their kids from their parents in Illinois & Michigan for not being vaccinated. TAKING OUR KIDS FROM US!!! WAKE UP!!! THIS IS IT, & IF WE DON'T STAND UP, & STAND TOGETHER NOW, THIS WILL BE THE END OF OUR RIGHTS!!! If we need start bringing lawsuits against the board for breaking the law, & violating our rights then we will. So, to the Vinton Shellsburg School Board members, Benton County Health Dept., City of Vinton, Vinton Police Department you'd better take note that we know our rights & you if you go along with & try to enforce these mandates, you are being complacent & you will be breaking the law, & violating our First Amendment rights. MAY GOD BLESS US ALL,
Terry Geiger September 2, 2021, 2:26 pm In 1976, we had the Swine Flu and everyone took the vaccine to help prevent the spread. Nobody felt that they shouldn't get the vaccine. We just knew from past pandemics, it was the right thing to do. There is a vaccine for HPV, we hear the commercial all the time. The main message is "NOT MY CHILD". Any parent that has lost a child, would have done anything to prevent it. Our grandson will get the vaccine when it is available in his age group. We told him that he needs to be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. Covid is preventable, using the tools that we have. Our children are uses to what they need to do to help. We just have to support them. Teacher, parents, grandparents and community members are all "TEACHERS" for our children. Thank you for bringing awareness to our community.
Darrin Lindsey September 2, 2021, 10:07 pm Valerie Z. Bearbower, you are so misinformed. Firstly, the year with the largest amount of deaths, from Influenza,saw 74,000 deaths. In 2020, we saw over 500,000 deaths due to COVID-19. The yearly death rate from Influenza is .01% of those that knowingly contracted it. The COVID-19 death rate (not mortality rate! That is figured off of the whole population, not just those that get infected. Secondly, you need to have someone read you the 1st Amendment to our Constitution. The ONLY people or entity that can be guilty of violating your 1st Amendment rights, is our government. A person or entity cannot be retaliated against, by our government, for something they said or did. No member of the press can be retaliated against, by our government. They can be publicly shamed by any non-government person (private citizen or entity). EVERY private business, including School Districts, have the Constitutional right to set the rules for their business, as long as those rules are not illegal in other ways (like requiring student to take cocaine to class every day. If the government intervenes in how a business runs their company, then we would be a Fascist or Communist country. Thirdly, you go along way in telling the school board that they're breaking the law. Why don't you tell them what law they're breaking? What are you going to sue them for? You obviously don't know how to understand the 1st Amendment to our Constitution. How much of the rest of our Constitution, and it's Amendments do you not understand?
Pete Sanders September 2, 2021, 11:58 pm Very nicely put! It’s crazy the people that want to argue against this. Your letter is very well put together and very factual.
Casey McKibben September 3, 2021, 9:50 am Yea I just want to say that that up there is all bullshit! ☝️ kids are getting sick because it's that time of year again ! And around each other again! And or it's cause there getting sick from the spike protein there vaxed parents are shedding on to them! Everyone who has taken those shots are being pumped full of graphite oxide which is very toxic to the human body! People really need to do their research and stop watching the tv!!!! All you people are doing is participating in their cults! This needs to stop! Oh. And the variants are coming from the shots, not the bullshit stories you're seeing or hearing on the news! I'd be glad to talk with anyone about this at any time! And I'm not trying to offend anyone!
Darrin Lindsey September 3, 2021, 1:38 pm Casey McKibbon, I have done "research". Please tell me which library you used to do your "research". Which medical professionals have you met with, to ask questions about the virus and the vaccine? Or, have you done your "research" on YouTube and your favorite Fascist podcasts? Let me ask you... Are you worried that " big brother" is out to get you? Boo!!! I'm so glad that I can live my life, without that kind of paranoia to the world around me. Please explain your specific research on the biological make up of the 3 different vaccines. You seem to know that someone created 3 different mutations of the SARS-CoV2 virus, and has included those in all three of the vaccines. Oh, forget that. I know that you don't have any clue what is in the vaccines. You only heard, on YouTube or a podcast that a "doctor" in Spain has declared that the viruses are 99% graphite oxide. I'm here to tell you, "Dr. Jane Ruby" from Spain is a psychologist. Not a doctor at all. Psychologists are just glorified mental therapists. Now, the vaccine doses are .3 millilitres. Even IF it was 99% graphite oxide (which it is absolutely not), one dose is not enough to kill anyone. Also, the only way for human to human transfer of graphite oxide is through the exchange of bodily fluids. Graphite Oxide is very lethal to human beings. But not in that small dose. So, unless you believe that 45,000 Floridians that have died from the Delta variant, all had sex with a vaccinated person, your whole theory is "bulls^!t. Viruses have been mutating for centuries. The longer they have a host (human body) that allows them to keep living, they WILL mutate. The reason they mutate is that our bodies fight them. They learn how to fight back, better. They *get stronger and smarter*.
Valerie Bearbower September 3, 2021, 2:32 pm Well, Darrin, so you obviously didn't know that it didn't matter what you died of, as long as you tested positive for covid, that is what they put on the death certificate, whether it was a gunshot wound, car accident, or drowning if you tested positive at the time of death they counted it as a covid death. That is why the television stations had to stop saying "died from" to "died with". So go ahead & keep watching & listening to mainstream media to give you the government's version of the facts. Why is it that doctors & nurses are refusing this shot if it is so safe? Why are employees of the white house not forced to take it? Why is the media not showing you everything that's going on in Australia? Why are they not reporting on all of the protests & lawsuits due to these shots, the testing, & treatment that are happening all over the United States & the rest of the world? And, if this shot is so damn effective, then why are those who got the shot & wear masks so afraid of the unwanted? We are only hurting ourselves, are we not? The unvaxxed should be afraid of the vaxxed because it is you that is carrying the highest viral load.
Valerie Bearbower September 3, 2021, 5:41 pm Just 3 of the many videos I have, please watch them & then come back with some more of your medical knowledge, are you or were you any kind of medical student/professor/doctor? Watch all 3 beginning to end, the first one freezes a couple of times, but be patient, you will know when it ends because he'll sign off. Thank you.
Jessica Henkle September 3, 2021, 3:51 pm Throughout the pandemic, there have been opposing views on how to handle masks, vaccines, social distancing, etc. You can support almost any view you want with an internet search. I believe the most important question to ask is that if you become ill with COVID and need medical care, hospitalization, or a ventilator, where would you go for that care. It will not be the internet-it will be your healthcare provider. Those are the professionals that have dedicated their lives to become educated on how the body responds to illness, to vaccine, how viruses mutate, how medications work in the body. Those are the people I trust. I would ask them about how to control the spread of the virus-ask them if masks are beneficial. Ask them how the vaccine works and if it would be beneficial to you, your loved ones, and to greater humanity. If you trust them to try to save your life, trust them to guide you in the right direction when making these choices.
Casey McKibben September 3, 2021, 6:17 pm Hey Darren obviously you only know what a free mason has taught you. It means nothing to the reality we should be living in ! With that said! It's GRAPHINE OXIDE, NOT graphite, spell check changed it on me! Up there! ☝️ you haven't done any research on these vaccines or you would be behind me on this! You only know what the TV has told you,or youtube. I have the sources for everything I talk about! Maybe you should research agenda 21 and agenda 30! That will tell you what is going on right now! And if you research a little more along with that! You will start seeing key patterns that you could never find on social media! But if you have already taken the vax This will be pointless because your subconscious will fight it the entire way because everything you go to research will threaten what you think you know!
Valerie Bearbower September 3, 2021, 6:38 pm And if those people aren't credible enough for you Darren, how about a former Phizer VP... Or how about Robert Malone, the inventer of MRNA that said no one, under any circumstances, should take this.
Darrin Lindsey September 4, 2021, 10:28 pm Casey and Valerie, Graphite Oxide/Graphene Oxide are the same thing. I don't feel sorry for you guys, for your misguided ways. You truly believe that there are *left of center medicine* and *right of center medicine*. Medicine doesn't work that way. The reason that 99% of COVID-19 hospitalizations across the 7 states in the South, are unvaccinated people, is because people with vaccines don't have any bad symptoms when the get infected. It's not hard for a vaccinated people to get infected. The vaccine doesn't do anything to stop the droplets of Coronavirus from getting into a vaccinated persons mouth or nose. That's all it takes to test positive. But, the vaccine doesn't allow the disease (COVID-19) to attack our bodies. Thank you for the information that you provided. I won't go anywhere near it. Because it's all false information. The people that have chosen to leave the Republican Party, to join the Trump Party, only tell lies. It's more of the Fascist playbook. They tell spectacularly, outrageous lies to their followers, to drag you into their cult. Just like Hitler and Mussolini did.
Ted Mossgrove September 5, 2021, 6:37 am So Darrin, am I correct to assume that because someone disagrees with what you think about vaccines AND because they might be Trump supporters (I have no idea why the two HAVE to go together, but you assume that they do, after all, Trump got this vaccine fast-tracked) that they think like Nazis? Wow. What a leap. Those on the other side of the aisle view YOUR believing in this vaccine and all the rules around it as the same thing, the first steps toward communism. I'm glad we can all just look at the unbiased science...wherever that can be found...which is NOT on Facebook, YouTube or many other sites that pull down a contracting point on the virus. That should tell you something. Communism shuts down discussion and opposing views as "misinformation."
Darrin Lindsey September 5, 2021, 10:25 am Ted Mossgrove, I didn't say, or even imply anything about anyone being a nazi! Quit adding your own meaning to what other people write. It seems to be the thing on your "side of the aisle" do the best. What I did mention is; that Hitler and Mussolini used misinformation (Lies) to draw people into their cult. That's how cults work! When a person starts believing in, and defending theories, just because it's what they want to hear, without giving the theories any type of consideration or scrutiny, that person is in a cult, without knowing it. They're fed the lies in small portions and rates, at first. Then, ever so slowly, those rates are increased. The Trump cult of today, was started (the planning stage began) as soon as Richard Nixon was forced to resign, in 1974. It took 42 years for it to come to full boil. I was a Republican until 2001. That's when I realized something was seriously wrong, and I didn't want any part of it. Now, the mainstream Republican Party is no longer a conservative party. It has moved much farther right than that.
Megan Hupke September 5, 2021, 3:14 pm Thank you very much for your leadership/service on the school board, Mr. Levis, during these trying times and thank you for writing this professional and what I feel is a transparent article for me and others to read in Benton County. You are appreciated. Thanks again!
Tiffany Knaack September 8, 2021, 9:37 am Darrin Lindsey you must not have children to be so willing to comply and not even consider that you are the one that is MISINFORMED! That’s pretty crazy that you need to confront other parents that are truly concerned about the threat that is at hand. Children have already been subjected to was too many vaccines as it is and now you wanna subject them to gene therapy which has killed all animals that have received it. No one is getting all the facts because the whistleblowers are being scrubbed from the internet but it’s people like you that need to stay in your lane and quit thinking you know all the answers and think you have this inside scope that no one else is privileged enough to know cause even top doctors are either being threatened bribed or have so much trust in the system and don’t want to believe a plan could be so sinister. I don’t agree with the mandates! There is a reason this vaccination roll out involves all these ridiculous incentives. Who funds the CDC Bill Gates. He is all for population control. You either are as sinister as those who are calling all the shots or you are putting your OPINION when it’s not even appropriate. You would expect for the writer of this article to have stuff to say to the people who comment not YOU who obviously doesn’t even know the TRUTH
Crystal Coder September 8, 2021, 12:12 pm Thank you Mr. Levis- very well written. Everything you have suggested parents do to keep kids healthy is reasonable and great advice even if we weren't in a Pandemic! I have learned that you cannot trust anything on the internet- everyone has an agenda. Just because you can copy and paste links, doesn't make them anymore true that the mainstream news networks. Everyone has an agenda- and it most likely is NOT keep you and your kids healthy. If you want truth and honesty about the situation go to a trusted local doctor. Like Jessica Henkle said, if and when you do get sick, they are the ones that will be providing your healthcare- not a link on the internet.
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