North Scott, Bettendorf superintendents respond to extended Iowa school closures

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Quad Cities (KWQC) - Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds ordered school closures to be extended through April 30th during a press conference on Thursday.

Cropped Photo: eflon / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 License Link

Reynolds gave school districts two options for continuous learning. Districts can either make it voluntary or required.

If schools go with the voluntary option, they can encourage students to participate but do not require them to do so. If schools go with the required option, student participation and attendance is taken. Additionally, work will also be graded for credit.

This can present some challenges to students who do not have access to wifi or a computer.

TV6 spoke to the North Scott School District Superintendent Joe Stutting and the Bettendorf School District Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Spelhaug about how they plan to handle these changes.

Both districts expected schools would be closed for an extended period of time. Therefore, they already had teachers reaching out to families about their ability to access schoolwork.

“I think we are up to 186 families earlier today that did not have a device for their child or do not have internet access,” Superintendent Stutting said. “We have a lot of devices in the district. It wouldn’t be hard for us to get a device. The internet is another situation for us. Between all the providers we’ll have to figure out what is the best option for families depending on where they live and what access they have to internet providers.”

Superintendent Stutting said many internet providers have stepped up to help during all of these changes.

Both he and Dr. Spelhaug believes having mandatory classes and credits is most important for their high schoolers.

“We are going to make sure that our seniors graduate and that they graduate on time,” Dr. Spelhaug said. “That is going to happen. If we are not able to get that done under this requirement we will figure out a different way.”

School districts have one week to come up with their final plan. Those plans could be different between their elementary, middle and high schools.

“The mandatory would mean we would be keeping track of attendance and things like that,” Stutting said. “We’d be telling students you’re required to meet at the times that we’ve said and there will be attendance taken and things like that. Of course you have to be flexible in these times. We are all learning to be extremely flexible. This will be no different. We understand families have a lot going on. Even if that requirement was there that flexibility will still have to be there for our families.”

Stutting said continuing education at least gives kids some sense of normalcy and structure while they stay safe at home.

Governor Reynolds gave the school districts the option to include online classes or deliver paper packets to students. Whichever route the school districts go, each district across Iowa will have to submit their plans to the Iowa Department of Education by April 10th.