MFL MarMac will roll out ‘educational opportunities’ for students this week

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Last week, MFL MarMac began offering free grab and go breakfast and lunch for children 18 and younger at all communities in the district, assuring students remain fed while school is closed. Here, staff members Jackie McGeough (left) and Nancy Moses hand out meals in Marquette’s bench neighborhood. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

MFL MarMac and other school districts across Iowa will not have to make up the instructional hours they have—and will—miss while closed until April 13 due to COVID-19.

Whether that closure is extended is yet to be known, said superintendent Dale Crozier, “but that’s the time frame we’re looking at now.”

Over the past week, Crozier said he’s met regularly with the state’s department of education, Keystone Area Education Agency and other local superintendents to navigate the district through these uncharted waters.

“We have to be able to move right and left and adapt constantly,” he noted. “I haven’t had a chance to stop, or to think about stopping.”

This week, teachers will be reaching out to students with “educational opportunities,” what Crozier described as optional curriculum and programs all students can utilize equally. At this time, there are no required or graded materials or courses with deadlines for students.  

“With the exception of two virtual academies, and college courses, Iowa is not yet authorized to provide graded instructional time virtually or off campus learning that counts toward requirements,” Crozier explained. “However, we can offer educational opportunities, they can be online, and we will be offering that service.”

 Crozier said the district’s curriculum director, Eliza Philpott, as well as its instructional coaches, are helping to develop these plans. Teachers have also continued to work, whether from school or at home.

“I’ve passed this to the personnel who are in charge of where the rubber meets the road,” he commented. “We’re empowering people to carry the torch.”

Crozier said the teachers miss their students and are eager to reach out. Kids and families are also eager for that contact—school provides a valuable social/emotional aspect.

“Our students need our teachers,” he shared.

According to Crozier, all school staff will continue to be paid through the closure.  That includes hourly employees, who are currently on call for various jobs.

Around 18 people have been hard at work assuring students remain fed while they are away from school. On March 17, MFL MarMac began offering free grab and go breakfast and lunch for children 18 and younger at all communities in the district. 

Students in need of grab and go meals are invited to pick them up at a designated time and location (see below) on Mondays and Thursdays, during the shutdown. On Mondays, kids will be provided with a three-day supply of both breakfast and lunch meals, and on Thursdays, they will get a two-day supply of both breakfast and lunch meals. Some of these meals may be more appetizing reheated, while others are intended to eat cold. Upon receiving grab and go meal bags, children should refrigerate whatever they will not be immediately eating. Sites include:

  • Farmersburg: City Park – 11:20 a.m., St. John’s Lutheran Church Parking Lot - 11:30 a.m.
  • Luana: Park by Post Office – 11:50 a.m., St. John’s Lutheran Church Parking Lot - noon
  • Giard: Living Faith United Methodist Church - 11 a.m.
  • Marquette/McGregor: Marquette Bench – 11:30 a.m., Marquette Parking Lot Under the Bridge - 11:40 a.m., Breezy Point – 11:50 a.m., McGregor Public Library – noon, McGregor School – noon
  • Monona: Community Center Parking Lot - 11:30 a.m., Bo and Pat Echard’s Driveway at 208 N. Page St. – 11:45 a.m., Joe and Shelley Hertrampf’s Driveway at 503 W. Iowa St. – 11:55 a.m., School Lunchroom – noon, Neal and Stephanie Wikner’s Driveway at 529 Iowa St. – 12:05 p.m.

Individuals who deliver the meals will practice social distancing as recommended by the Iowa Department of Public Health, so students will not be permitted to stay and eat their meals at the sites. Rural students, families who are immunocompromised or those with illness who are unable to pick up meals at one of the designated locations can contact Brandi at (563) 880-1266 to request delivery. Please be mindful that the school does not have the resources to provide deliveries to every household, so use this request only if needed. 

Additionally, the district will have SnackPacks available. Students in need are encouraged to take one to two SnackPacks each week from a meal site location for supplementation of meals. These will be provided on the honor system.

So far, said Crozier, an average of 260 kids have utilized the meals.

“A lot of people have stepped up. Offering this is extremely important,” he stated. “Not only do kids need to eat, but it brings a sense of normalcy and shows them that we care.”

Looking ahead, Crozier said he sees nothing stopping MFL MarMac seniors, who have met requirements to date, from timely graduation. That message has been communicated to the district through the department of education.

Sports would also resume, he added, but would be “fast and furious.”

Crozier is appreciative of people’s patience as the district works through all this.

“It’s a horrible situation,” he acknowledged, “but we’re coming together and stepping up. The entire crisis is a large mountain, but we’re going to climb it and have better days. That’s how I’m looking at it—you have to.”

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