Schools play the ‘what if’ game

Thursday, June 25, 2020

PLYMOUTH CO. — School administrators in Plymouth County and across Iowa are faced with making plans for what the 2020-21 school year might look like, including where students and teachers will be.

Districts need to submit their continuous earning plan by July 1. Districts are also able to submit a hybrid plan and/or on-site plan.

At MMCRU, Superintendent Dan Barkel said, “It is our intention to have students in the school buildings and classrooms beginning in August at MMCRU.”

The school start date is Aug. 24.

“Our plan calls for students to all be in school at the same time, when health conditions permit it,” he said. “At this time we are choosing not to do a hybrid plan where half the students are in school while half are at home, due to the tremendous burden it would place on parents with multiple children for daycare and scheduling.”

“Because our districts have made the commitment to purchase devices for our students, we are better set up for continuous learning than we were at the end of the 2019-20 school year. But, we still have some wi-fi connectivity issues that need to be resolved for some families,” Barkel said.

Bussing is probably the greatest challenge with distancing, according to Barkel.

“We do not have enough busses or drivers to follow the CDC guidelines posted earlier this year regarding bussing. Two things we are considering changing is having more busses running the shuttles between Marcus and Remsen, and also limiting, or changing how we do ‘in-town’ bussing, so our busses are not crowded when immediately leaving or arriving at the school,” he explained.

For in building scenarios, he said the MMCRU boards made a huge commitment to purchase devices for each student so that no computers need to be shared.

“This will also assist us if, at some point during the year, we need to revert to continuous distance learning,” he said.

Meanwhile, plexiglass shields are being made for certain locations, such front desks or lunch locations where there is face-to-face contact with students and the public. There will be sanitizer in each classroom as well as sanitizer stations in high traffic hallways. Water fountains will be a focus of hygiene and will be sanitized several times each day.

“We are still in the process of devising how we can do lunch and keep students apart from each other as much as possible,” Barkel continued.

“We will likely do our recesses in shifts, so less students are in a recess at the same time. We anticipate that they will be able to play on the equipment, but we will need to disinfect the equipment on a regular basis in order for them to do so,” he said.

As of presstime, responses had not been received from Remsen St. Mary’s.