School districts in Allamakee County join others in facing unprecedented times during pandemic

by Lissa Blake

In these unprecedented times of pandemic outbreak, schools in Allamakee County are trying to do their part until life returns to normal.

“I’d love to see students back to school in the near future, but that’s not likely to happen,” said Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Superintendent Jay Mathis. Mathis is among a group of about 30 superintendents who consistently meet via videoconference to discuss what measures each district is taking during this time of forced closure in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We just sent out a notice last week that Prom has been canceled,” said Mathis of the event originally scheduled for April 25 at Waukon High School.

Mathis added while graduation is still set for Sunday, May 17, he wouldn’t be surprised if school closures will be extended, forcing additional cancellations of such activities. “We sure hope we can get the students back and have graduation,” he said.

During the state’s initial four-week closure, which began March 16, the school’s certified and classified staff will continue to receive full pay.

Last Friday, March 20 ACSD started its Grab N’ Go lunch program, where parents can come either once or twice a day to pick up food for students. “Our first day we did 104 breakfasts and 193 lunches,” said ACSD Food Service Secretary Michelle Kiel.

Families can sign up online and pull up to the shop garage door to get their food (see Page 6A for additional details).

“It helps that our district was already implementing the Summer Feeding Program. That made it easier for us to get going,” said Kiel. “And the experience has been very positive, with many people thanking us.”

Mathis noted that to distribute the Grab N’ Go meals, it takes between 15 and 20 volunteers. “We’ve had really good volunteer participation,” said Mathis.

Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) Superintendent Dr. Dale Crozier shared that although it is not yet known whether or not the closure of Iowa schools through April will last longer, “I see nothing stopping our seniors - who have met requirements to date - from timely graduation. That message has been communicated to us through the Department of Education.”

Although there are presently no required or graded materials or courses with deadlines, Dr. Crozier said his District will be offering educational opportunities as allowed, in the near future.

“In the coming days, our teachers are and will be reaching out to students with optional curriculum and programs that all students can utilize equally. Our staff is working diligently on this matter,” said Crozier.

“As this unfolds, I will have more to tell you. For now, we will continue the meal programs (see Page 6A) and continue working to serve students with educational opportunities. This entire crisis is indeed a large mountain, and we will make it over and be united on the other side!” he concluded.

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