ACSD Board of Directors holds special meeting to approve virtual learning plans for snow days or school closures

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors members met Monday, December 7 at noon for a special meeting to discuss a couple of items relating to the $4,680,000 School Infrastructure Sales, Services and Use Tax Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2020 and virtual learning plans for snow days and extended school closures. Board member Scott Melcher was absent.

Pertaining to the bond, the board approved a tax exemption certificate and a resolution authorizing the terms of issuance and providing for and securing the payment of school infrastructure sales, services and use tax revenue refunding bonds. Roll call votes were taken on both items with board members Beth Shafer, Brent Beyer, Erik Helgerson and Allan Rissman all voting aye.

Discussion then moved to the learning plans submitted by building principals. The plans were made by administrators and staff for virtual learning that could be utilized on a snow day during the upcoming winter season or if the district would have to go to virtual learning for any length of time due to COVID-19 or other matters.

ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis thanked the administrators and staff for the work they put into the plans. He opened up discussion for questions from board members on the plans. Shafer asked how things would be handled if students did not have a device or internet access at home for virtual learning.

East/West Elementary School Principal Samantha Thornton noted that “snow day packets” would be sent home with students and they would contain enough work to last for a few days. Students would complete sheets in those packets and hand them in to teachers and then would be able to get credit for that. The materials for the packets had already been selected, and Thornton noted that they were just waiting for board approval to be able to print and distribute them when needed.

Beyer then asked about expectations for staff at the various buildings in a virtual learning circumstance. Superintendent Mathis explained that if it would be a non-weather-related virtual learning instance, all staff are still required to show up to their respective buildings. Mathis noted that there are lists of things for all staff members to do.

If it would be a virtual learning day due to inclement weather, staff are not going to be required to report to their classrooms, but if they would rather do their lessons from their classrooms, they can. Shafer also asked about teachers being able to have internet access from home. Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin noted that most teachers won’t have any issues with that, and it was noted that the few who do have such an issue have already made plans and arrangements so their content can still be uploaded for students.

Superintendent Mathis also stated that the board does have the authority to determine what missed days do and don’t have to be made up, so long as ACSD meets the hours requirement for a school year. The board approved the learning plans prior to adjourning the meeting.

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