AUDUBON — Students will be returning to school in person on Aug. 17 at the Audubon Community Schools, and the district will use practices like hand sanitizing, increased cleaning of the building, and possibly requiring masks to help ensure health and safety for staff and students, according to a letter by Elementary Principal Sam Graeve and High School Principal Quentin Stanerson released on Monday afternoon.
School districts around the state have been working on what the “Return to Learn” will look like this fall, considering plans that could include in-person or virtual learning, or a combination of the two.
In the letter, Graeve and Stanerson said, “Late last week, school districts around the state received guidance from the Iowa Department of Education, and the Iowa Department of Public Health in regards to school reopening,” adding that students would be returning on Aug. 17, and would be able to return in person.
The district will perform recommended mitigation practices “to help ensure we maintain the safety of our students and staff and create an environment conducive to learning,” according to the release, including the following guidelines: Asking those who are sick should stay home; Having students sanitize hands entering and exiting classrooms. Increasing cleaning and disinfecting of the school buildings and possibly using masks. Teachers will also monitor and promote respect for all students and their particular needs.
Whether or not to use or require masks has become a hot topic, and school administration said the issue was being discussed with the Iowa Department of Public Health, “and decisions will be made as more information is gathered.”
The recommendations from the state do not require face coverings or masks for staff or students but did allow for personal use of masks. In addition, the state asked districts to “teach and reinforce” the prevention of stigma associated with the use or non-use of masks to encourage a more respectful, inclusive and supportive environment in the schools.
District administration said they were pleased with the direction provided by the state, especially in recognizing that each district has unique challenges and no “one size fits all” solution can be used for all districts.
In the letter, Graeve and Stanerson said, “feel that the best place for our kids to get a quality education is in the building face to face with their teacher and peers.”
While the situation is “ever changing,” district officials wanted to let parents know what direction plans were going in, so parents could start thinking about their particular situation.