MFL MarMac School Board approves return to learn plan

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

The MFL MarMac School Board, at its Aug. 9 meeting, unanimously approved the district’s return to learn plan for the 2021-2022 school year.

 

“The staff has been sent the plan, and it’s been on our website and open for questions. We can continue to take questions even after we approve it,” said superintendent Dale Crozier. “We are required to have public input.”

 

According to the return to learn document on the MFL MarMac website, the school will have in-person learning all year to the degree possible. “We will have on-site instruction until or unless advised or instructed otherwise by the state,” it read.

 

“The crux of the plan is that we’re going to do what the state tells us we have to do. We’ll follow the Iowa Department of Education (DE) and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH),” Crozier explained.

 

MFL MarMac will not offer a virtual learning option unless otherwise guided by the state. The only exception to this rule is that the district may have some virtual snow days after Christmas, although legislation is still pending on this issue.

 

However, MFL MarMac will continue to integrate two learning management systems “as vehicles to help us continue providing quality learning outcomes to meet our ever-changing needs.” The plan describes a learning management system (LMS) as a virtual hub, or website, where students can access their classroom content and materials, calendar information, educational resources and collaborate with their teachers. 

 

“Additionally, having an LMS makes learning more streamlined and organized, as it allows teachers to manage content, record and measure learning, store student data and more easily communicate with their students. We will be utilizing our learning management systems throughout the school year. Our learning management systems will continue to be Seesaw for grades PK-3 and Canvas for grades 4-12,” noted the plan.

 

The district will not require masks this year, nor will it recommend masks unless guided otherwise by the state. But, according to the plan, “If anyone chooses to wear a mask, they may, and we will enforce the right to wear them free of questions from staff and students.”

 

“It’s also in the plan that we will enforce if someone makes fun of a kid or staff member wearing a mask, then they’re in trouble. We won’t tolerate that,” Crozier said.

 

“My only concern is, when we get back to school without the masks, what happens if we start having those large numbers of kids out?” asked elementary staff member Janelle Smith.

 

If absences reach over 10 percent of the school population, Crozier said the district will consult with county public health.

 

“They determine the direction you go. That’s covered in the plan,” he said.

 

The return to learn plan stated nursing staff will coordinate appropriate screening for COVID-19 that is relevant to current recommendations and mandates from the DE and IDPH. Parents/guardians (or childcare providers) are asked to be watchful of COVID-19 symptoms. Quarantines for those sick with COVID-19, or showing symptoms, will still be in effect and managed in accordance with current IDPH and the DE rules.

 

The school will be sanitized and cleaned daily, and MFL MarMac will continue with some of the practices it adhered to during the height of the pandemic last winter. The district will encourage the frequent washing of hands and the practice of good hygiene.

 

Crozier said it was evident those measures cut down on other common illnesses as well.

 

“You can’t deny the fact that I don’t think we had a single case of strep throat until the end of March in the whole district. We talk about people being sick—we might have had over 10 percent sick with the flu before,” said Crozier. “So we’re going to try and keep those practices.”

 

New staff contracts approved

The board approved several staffing changes at the meeting. That included new contracts for Brenda Hoth, Carrie DeYoung, Misty Jones and Bobbie Jo Hanson as paraprofessionals; Mike Driscoll as seventh grade volleyball coach; Jake Wilke and Ryan Pomerening as assistant high school football coaches; Hannah Schutte as middle school cross country coach; and Kristen Hanson as middle school production assistant.

 

Update from Keystone AEA

Administrator Pat Heiderscheit and District 3 Director Dr. Bill Withers provided the board with an update from the Keystone Area Education Agency. After 11 years at Keystone, including nine as administrator, Heiderscheit said he will step away from his leadership role next summer. The plan is to choose a successor later this year.

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