MFL MarMac will start school year with ‘hybrid’ learning component

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

MFL MarMac intends to start the school year on Aug. 24 with on-site learning for all students who are able to attend in-person, while also incorporating a hybrid component. 

According to the district’s Return to Learn plan, which was released last week, that means MFL MarMac will provide four days per week of on-site instruction on Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday, then continuous learning, where students learn from home, on Wednesdays. This will last through at least the month of September.

This introductory period will give teachers, who will still report to school, additional time to plan and serve all students—particularly those who were unable to attend in-person—as well as to engage in professional development. It will also allow additional time for cleaning and give officials an opportunity to monitor the ongoing development of the coronavirus and make informed decisions going forward.

“As we continue to move through this pandemic, we will offer on-site learning as much as possible,” the plan noted.

While at school, students will be highly encouraged, but not required, to wear face coverings. The exception to this will be on buses, where face coverings will be required due to difficulty in physical distancing. MFL MarMac said it’s making arrangements to reduce the number of children on buses, and encourages parents to bring their children to school, especially at the start of the year.

“There are possibly a couple of other isolated situations where we may expect face coverings,” the plan added. “This could change in either direction depending on IDPH guidelines, county health and real-time recommendations.”

Students’ temperatures will not be checked at school, so the district asks parents to do so—and screen for other COVID-19 symptoms—at home. “If anyone has a fever, they should stay home,” detailed the plan. “In those instances, [students] will have the option to learn from home if they are able.”

The school will be sanitized and cleaned daily, and high-contact areas will be cleaned throughout the day. The district has added two nurse’s offices/spaces to include a “well room” and a “care room” that will be next door. This way, students who are not feeling well will have a waiting space that is not in the same location as the regular nurse’s office. 

In another safety measure, lunch will be divided into two groups. One group will get a sack lunch in their classroom and the other a hot lunch in the lunchroom. The next day, the groups will switch. MFL MarMac said this will make it easier to social distance. Students wishing to bring their own lunch are still welcome to do so. On days before continuous learning, the district will provide sack meals through the lunch program for students to take home for the next day.

Students who cannot come to school in any circumstance will be provided an alternative, and they will still count as MFL MarMac students during the pandemic. The district is integrating two learning management systems to help meet ever-changing needs. A learning management system is a virtual hub where students can access their classroom content and materials, calendar info and educational resources, and collaborate with their teachers. The district will utilize SEESAW for grades PK-3 and CANVAS for grades 4-12. Learning systems like these can help involve students who are not in the school building.

“Our objective is to meet the educational needs of our students while taking heavily into consideration the health, safety, social and emotional needs of our students and staff members, which are also part of the educational process,” the district shared. “This plan is tentative, and it is subject to change. We will follow the guidelines of the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Department of Public Health as we move forward, as well as collaborating with Clayton County health personnel to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment.”

Read more of MFL MarMac’s Return to Learn plan on the district’s website and Facebook page.

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