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School superintendent: District off to good start

School superintendent: District off to good start

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Superintendent Rachel Savage told school board members Monday she is happy the Moline-Coal Valley School District has made it to week four of its blending learning model. Despite the district’s successes, she said she knows the time for strategizing and planning for educating students during COVID-19 is not over.

Savage said approximately 70% of families are sending students for face-to-face instruction on their identified hybrid days. That’s more than 5,000 students according to her 2020-2021 school year enrollment report that showed 7,210 students in total are enrolled this fall. About this time last year there were 92 more students enrolled for a total of 7,302.

Savage said now that staff and students of the district have had a few weeks under their belts for establishing good routines and health and safety guidelines, the district can move more of its focus back on teaching kids no matter what instruction model they’ve selected. At the same time, she said, that doesn't mean all students and families have everything they need.

She said she is pleased with the improvements the district has been able to make thus far, but she said the district’s efforts are not perfect and it is working with parents and teachers to ensure more students can find success.

“Just because we’re back at school doesn’t mean our communities are out of the woods,” she said.

Savage, in part, was referring to feedback recently gained through a virtual community forum in which some stakeholders reported struggling with the academic workload. Friday is a planned professional development day in which principals and staff plan to review possible changes and areas for improvement.

“We’re going to get together with teams and buildings to figure out how to adjust so more families are finding success and teachers are able to remain sane,” Savage said.

Savage and school board members discussed Wednesday the state’s mandate of five hours of daily instruction and what that looks like for students of various ages.

School board member Justin Anderson said the feedback he has heard is that middle school and high school students are frequently completing their instruction in two hours or less, meanwhile younger students are working for much longer. Savage said part of this difference stems from middle and high school students working on a quasi-block schedule so that their classes are divided up over two quarters. Because of that, Anderson, said students and families should also be aware the quarter is half completed and that means the grading period is half over.

School board members also discussed the district’s COVID-19 tracking data that is available on the district’s newly redesigned website. As of Monday, the district is reporting five cumulative positive cases for staff and students for the school year. The number of new cases the district has seen in the last 14 days is three.

Savage said at this time the data is not being broken down by building or identified by student or staff numbers for privacy reasons. She said she would be happy to take guidance from the board if they wished to see the numbers reported differently.

In other business, board members:

– Heard a summer programming update on the number of students served through the traditional and special education extended school year programs.

– Heard about the district’s efforts to ensure students meet the Oct. 15 deadline for physicals and immunizations.

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