Mid-Prairie working on ‘return to learn’ plan

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Mid-Prairie leadership is working to put together the district’s “return to learn” plan for this fall.

The state has mandated that all schools submit a plan to the Department of Education by July 1.

Superintendent Mark Schneider said that the state released guidelines for the plans on May 8.

“It covers how we’re going to return to learn in the fall, which of course is going to be difficult because no one has a crystal ball that can tell us what the conditions are going to be next fall,” Schneider said at the May 11 school board meeting.

The Department of Education is asking schools to look at three different delivery models, one of which is required, while the other two are optional.

Schneider said that the required part is the delivery of continuous learning to students if the district is unable to open its buildings this fall.

“The state is telling us that if we have to do this again, there’s not going to be a choice between being voluntary or required,” he said. “It’s going to be required for everybody.”

The district will also look at hybrid learning.

“Hybrid learning is maybe we can’t come back into the buildings full-time, but you don’t have to stay home full-time,” Schneider said. “Some examples could be half of your students come in the morning, and the other half come in the afternoon.

“Another example could be Group A comes on Monday, Group B comes on Tuesday, and Group A comes back on Wednesday. When Group A comes in on Monday, they get the work that they need to do on Tuesday, so when they come back on Wednesday, they’ll have Monday and Tuesday’s work.”

The third model is full-time on-site learning delivery and any special considerations that go along with that.

“I would assume that even if we return on-site full-time, there are going to be some health and safety implications,” Schneider said. “We’ll also need to address the social, emotional and behavioral health of our students in this plan.”

Districts will also have to look at leadership, infrastructure, academic standards, equity and data.

“The principals will be working very heavily with their staffs to get a lot of input on what went well, what didn’t go well, what do we need professional learning on and how that will occur,” Schneider said.

School board Vice President Jeremy Pickard said that decisions will be difficult.

“You’re going to have people from all over the spectrum,” Pickard said. “How are you going to address it when you have a parent who says ‘I’m not sending my child to school’ and you have another parent who says ‘no, my kid won’t wear a facemask while they’re at school.’ I think it’ll be really interesting to see how that plays out.”

Schneider said that the idea of opening school early was essentially nixed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Reynolds initially waived the requirement to start school after Aug. 23, but amended that waiver earlier this month.

“She amended that, saying school districts could start earlier than Aug. 23 but it had to be days over and above the 180 days or 1,080 hours,” Schneider said. “If we start before Aug. 23, we’re going to have to think about how we pay our people, because obviously they’re under contract for 180 teaching days.

“Effectively, she killed any schools starting before Aug. 23.”

Schneider said he will bring the finalized plan to the board for review prior to the July 1 deadline.

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