CORONAVIRUS

Linn-Mar students required to wear masks; Marion schools 'recommending' masks

A student walks past an entrance next to the school office at the South Commons and entrance at Linn-Mar High School in
A student walks past an entrance next to the school office at the South Commons and entrance at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Jan. 18, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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MARION — Students in the Linn-Mar Community School District will be required to wear face coverings when returning to in-person classes this fall, while the Marion Community School District is recommending face coverings in densely populated areas.

While return-to-learn plans are still being finalized, both Linn-Mar and Marion are planning on holding in-person classes.

Linn-Mar is preparing to return to on-site learning Aug. 24, and families not comfortable sending their students back into the classroom can choose virtual learning options, Superintendent Shannon Bisgard wrote in a letter to parents last week.

Face coverings will be required for first through 12th grade Linn-Mar students and encouraged for prekindergarten and kindergartners.

The district is providing each student a mask and a mask and face shield for staff members.

Meanwhile, bus capacity will be reduced to 60 percent to encourage social distancing and be disinfected after each route.

Non-essential visitors will not be allowed into the building, including volunteers, classroom guests and family members.

Prekindergarten and Kindergarten students will be assigned an iPad, and first through 12th grade students will get a laptop this school year to take home with them if they are self-isolating or if school moves completely virtual.

Students will have assigned seating in class.

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The district is considering a hybrid model of in-person and virtual learning to reduce the number of students on-site. Students would rotate on alternating days or weeks, attending school on-site 50 percent and online 50 percent of the time.

School officials will make their final decision about Linn-Mar’s return to learn around Aug. 1.

Marion Community School District

The Marion Community School District also intends to begin the school year on-site, with options for virtual learning for families who do not feel comfortable sending their students back to the classroom.

The district is “recommending” face masks or shields, especially on buses and during hallway transitions, Superintendent Janelle Brouwer said in a letter to families last week.

For the upcoming school year, students are encouraged to walk or bike to school or have parents drive them if possible. Students who ride the bus are recommended to wear a mask.

In a survey sent out at the end of the 2019-20 academic year, 90 percent of Marion families indicated their child or children participated in virtual learning. Some barriers to students learning online when schools were closed in mid-March included lack of student motivation, unclear expectations or no access to a device.

Students kindergarten through 12th grade will be issued an online learning device this year, and a limited number of internet hot spots will be available to families who do not have internet at home.

More information will be released in early August.

“Flexibility and responsiveness” will be ongoing as the district continues to respond to new health guidance, Brouwer said.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

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