The Bettendorf Community School District is readying for the return of students full time later this month after a bill supporting the option became Iowa law.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday signed into law a bill requiring school districts to provide full-time in-class learning to parents who request it, the Associated Press reported. The mandate goes into effect on Feb. 15.
“We are finalizing details for our return on Feb. 16 for those families that have selected a 100% return,” Michelle Morse, superintendent of the district, said on Feb. 1 during her report to the school board at its regular meeting.
Until Friday, Iowa districts had two primary options for instructing students during the pandemic — fully in-person or a hybrid of in-person and remote learning. Parents, regardless of the district-adopted model, also could choose fully virtual learning. Districts, in most cases, can only adopt that model for a limited time under specific circumstances and then only with state approval.
“As we’ve been discussing at previous meetings, we’re doing all that we can to implement the recommended mitigation strategies,” Morse said. “Masks will continue to be required at all times except during lunch, and each site is working through the logistics for lunch.”
She said families or staff with questions should contact their individual school’s administration.
“We’re also working through things such as seating chart systems so we know where students are if we should have to quarantine some,” Morse said.
The district will also continue to emphasize handwashing and other hygiene measures meant to limit COVID-19’s spread, she said.
Social distancing will also be maintained to the greatest extent possible.
Morse said at a previous meeting that, with students in the classroom full time, the district would not be able to ensure the recommended 6 feet of distance between people would be maintained.
Representatives from the school’s unions, the Bettendorf Education Association and the Bettendorf Educational Support Association also urged people to help by following the safety guidelines, including social distancing, using face coverings and frequent handwashing to help control the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are working with building and district administration to create the safest environment possible for our students and staff,” Perry Bensen, speaking for the BEA, said.
It will take everyone working together to keep the COVID-19 under control, Melissa Laufenberg, representing BESA at the meeting, said.
Reynolds said on Jan. 12 she intended to ask lawmakers to immediately send her a bill to sign into law that would require schools to offer parents the option of having their children in classrooms full-time, according to another Associated Press report.