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Marshalltown schools provide exceptional response in crisis

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The Marshalltown Community School District will provide face masks to all students and staff when the year begins Aug. 25. Face and desk shields will also be available.

The Marshalltown Community School District deserves our support and respect.

Officials and staff have worked tirelessly to provide students with a quality education in an extremely challenging time.

Students did not return to classrooms after spring break in March. The COVID-19 pandemic first extended the break and then forced the closure of the school. As students waited, many of them alone, stuck in their homes, MCSD officials got to work.

In an impressive two-week span, district administrators created a voluntary virtual learning program for everyone. New content was placed on the website for all grades every week until the beginning of June.

However, in order to get that feat accomplished, they had to ensure students would have access to content — either virtually or through hard copies. Chromebooks were provided to every single student. Whether inspired by Marshalltown or not, other districts in Iowa followed suit.

For students who did not have access to the internet, Marshalltown purchased hotspots — devices which provide households with internet. Other families took advantage of school work hard copies, which were distributed throughout the community every week.

Realizing some students rely greatly on the food and nutrition they get from the school lunchrooms, district staff began figuring out and organizing a way to get free meals to all students — whether those students get reduced meals or not. Every day, buses traveled through neighborhoods, bearing grocery bags filled with healthy food such as fresh produce, milk and sandwiches. Marshalltown made sure students kept getting their nutrition during the summer months.

The district even took great measures and planning to provide a safe summer sports season for our youth.

This year’s summer months required district administration put in extra work and long hours to form a Return to Learn plan to submit to the Iowa Department of Education by July 1. The administration showed great foresight. Not only did they figure out how to provide a virtual learning option for students, but they figured out how to bring children back into the classrooms safely.

So when Gov. Kim Reynolds declared on July 17 that districts need to ensure students are in the classroom 50 percent of the time, MCSD was not fazed. Superintendent Theron Schutte said the governor’s proclamation had no effect on the Marshalltown Community School District.

On Wednesday, district officials held a virtual meeting with parents to answer questions and provide details of what the Return to Learn will look like when school reopens Aug. 25.

Everyone in the district has gone above and beyond to provide a safe, quality education for students. They are covering all of the bases — masks and shields, traffic in the hallways, recesses, lunches, maintaining social distancing.

However, the pandemic environment is ever-changing. New recommendations, new rules and new numbers are frequently reported. And if there is one thing the parents and Marshalltown students can count on is when something changes — and it will — the district will be there to guide our learners and community through it.

It takes an impressive administration, faculty and staff to pull off this incredible work. In Marshalltown we are grateful for this terrific response to the call of duty. We are proud the education and safety of our young minds are in good hands with the Marshalltown Community School District.

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