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District planning for student return on Dec. 1

Schutte

The Marshalltown Community School District will return to in-person learning on Dec. 1.

When students and staff return to the district grounds, there will not be any additional procedures in place.

“We strongly believe we are doing as much, if not more, than most districts within the state of Iowa and country in this regard,” Superintendent Theron Schutte said. “Our goal is to offer in-person learning safely to the fullest extent possible as we believe that it is in the best interest of the students and families we serve.”

When district officials made the decision to switch to full remote learning for two weeks, it was largely due to significant levels of employee absenteeism due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our teachers have continued to work very hard to become more knowledgeable and proficient in how to provide a high quality remote teaching and learning experience that is meaningful and engaging for our students,” Schutte said. “This will continue to be a work in progress as it relates to using technology tools and resources efficiently and effectively to provide a high-quality educational experience under these challenging circumstances.”

Students have been engaged in remote learning at home since Nov. 12 when Marshall County had an infection rate of more than 20 percent. Schutte is confident the online education will not be extended beyond Dec. 1.

“We can never say never with the uncertainties related to COVID-19, but we currently feel confident that our employee health and well-being has returned to a level where we will be able to return to onsite learning starting Dec. 1,” he said. “We’ve communicated with our parents that we will do our best to provide 48-hour notice if the need to switch to a remote teaching and learning modality becomes necessary. Hopefully our employees, students and their families will repect the virus this Thanksgiving week and continue to take the necessary steps to stay safe, healthy and well so that we don’t have a rebound in positive cases or quarantines in the following weeks.”

Scutte believes the safest place for students and staff to be is school, as there has been little evidence of the spread of the virus on district grounds.

“In the cases where that has happened, it can be attributed to people not using good judgement or following our safety and mitigation protocols to the necessary extent to remain safe, such as employees eating lunch together and not practicing maximum social distancing,” he said.

Scutte said it appears the number of students and employees being negatively impacted by COVID-19 has been reduced during the time at home. However, he realizes it is more difficult to stay on top of the health of everyone during the remote learning.

“We’ve strongly encouraged our employees and families to communicate their health status during this time,” he said.

Contact Lana Bradstream at lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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