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Bettendorf school board reassessing pandemic options
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Bettendorf school board reassessing pandemic options

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Bettendorf schools are so far doing well during the fall semester with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, but are carrying out a planned review on whether to shift course in coming weeks, district officials said.

In response to the coronavirus, the district has adopted a hybrid model of instruction that combines online teaching with traditional instruction and has incorporated safety measures designed to lessen the risk of spreading the illness. Families had the option to enroll their students in virtual classes full time.

Michelle Morse, superintendent of the Bettendorf Community School District, gave her assessment Monday at the regularly scheduled school board meeting. All members of the board were present.

“We do truly believe our success to date has been attributed to all of the mitigation strategies that have been recommended to be put in place,” she said.

Morse commended the diligence of the employees and the district’s students and families in following the safety measures.

The district is now assessing its circumstances, including gathering input from the district community, to see if there will be any changes, Morse said. The goal is to present a recommendation to the school board on Oct. 5. In that timeline, any alterations in its plan would be expected in place in time for the second half of the semester.

Among the options being discussed is whether some of the younger elementary students could be returned to fully traditional instruction, Morse said.

The board also listened to a presentation by Jill Matherly, the district director of human resources, about recent changes in what is expected of the district under the federal Title IX rules. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

The regulations were modified in May, Matherly said. Staff of an educational institution must now actively report any suspicion of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination rather than wait for students who believe their Title IX rights have been violated to file a complaint.

Matherly’s full presentation is available as a download in the information/actions section of the district’s agenda for Monday’s meeting.

The issues of bullying and discrimination were also raised at the Sept. 8 board meeting. The full discussion, including the statements of a student who spoke during the public comments period, can be seen on the district’s YouTube page.

The newspaper’s resulting coverage, including Morse’s discussion of investigating allegations and other efforts the district is making to improve its climate and culture, is available on its website.

The board also had a moment of silence for two employees who died recently: Delia Ford, a paraeducator, and Keith Bonnstetter, a teacher.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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