All school districts across Iowa have put plans in place for the 2020-21 school year for Return to Learn. No one can predict what the school year will look like, but Maquoketa Valley leaders have spent a lot of time over the last couple of months forming different plans. Earlier last week, the district announced via their Facebook page that students will be returning to school, starting in-person classes Monday, Aug. 24.

Preschool through 12th-grade students will attend school as they have traditionally done with extra health and safety precautions for the in-person plan. Special safety guidelines like social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands frequently, staff and students staying home if they are ill and sanitizing, will all be implemented with the plan.

The release stated that health officials said it is important that the whole community follow the same guidelines that the schools will be practicing.

The district plans to avoid having students in large groups for lengthy periods, and they encourage parents to bring their children to school if at all possible. They will be avoiding large groups by moving them to their classrooms as soon as they arrive. Students will also spread out during lunch.

Middle and high school students will have an A/B block schedule. This consists of four classes on one day and four on the other, with each period being 90 minutes.

The plan they are implementing is the traditional plan. The other options the board formulated were online and a hybrid of traditional and online.

“Our staff has been great,” Brenda Becker, Delhi Elementary’s principal and member of the planning committee, said. “They were updated on our initial thoughts for the plans in mid-June. They gave us some great feedback, and we were able to add additional details to make the plan more clear for everyone.”

Plenty of challenges were presented to the planning team as time went on. They had to keep adapting to new recommendations while also trying to do the right thing for the families in the district.

“The biggest obstacles we had making these plans were the constantly changing situations and knowing that regardless of how hard we worked and what decisions were made, that there would still be people unhappy with our choice,” Becker said. “We have a passionate and devoted team working with dedicated and caring staff members to do the best for our students and families.”

As the school year moves closer, change continues to happen. Becker and the team know that there is still a long road ahead.

“There is definitely more work to implement these plans,” Becker said. “Everything seems to be changing quickly, and there is a lot of information to work through. We are working with our state and county organizations in order to make the best decision for our students, staff and communities.”