MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Iowa school leaders are fielding a lot of questions from parents, teachers, students, and administrators as the start of the school year approaches. One of the top concerns the Marshalltown superintendent said he's getting is what the policy and procedures are when a student or staff member tests positive.
Dr. Caitlin Pedati of the Iowa Department of Public Health said at a press conference on July 17 that particular guidance for schools would be coming on August 1. But for Superintendent Theron Schutte, that timeline is troublesome.
"We really need that now," said Schutte. "Because we're asking parents to make decisions. School starts on August 25, and employees come back on August 19. And when you get information on August 1, that gives us about two weeks to do what we need to do to communicate...but not knowing how many are going to choose to be on site versus online. Parents want answers to questions on this...these are things that should be standardized across the country."
Schutte said his district has spent a lot of money preparing for the first day of school; buying masks, plexiglass shields for desks, hot spots for families without internet, and more. Thankfully, he said, the district was in a decent financial position before the pandemic, so he believes the expenses won't hurt the district right now.
"Every day we will be faced with new challenges with this," said Schutte.
He said in his decades of experience in education, dealing with the obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the hardest time in his career.
"We want employees to have all the answers they want, we want parents to have all the answers to the questions they want," said Schutte. "But we just don't have answers for all of that. Our goal is to continue to be as transparent and effective in getting the word out so they can make the best decisions for their family."
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