School tackles meals, then await gov's decision


A caravan carrying 1,392 meals headed out of North Scott High School's parking lot Monday to 13 drop sites where thankful residents waited eagerly for what some said is there only trip out of the house.

Glenn Elementary grade schooler Isabella Lugo leapt from her mom’s pick up and raced to a meal van parked at the Donahue fire station. Bus driver Derek Hamilton and kindergarten teacher Meredith Lenning gave Isabella meals to bring back to brothers Louis and Jorge. Their mom, Adrian Lemus, welcomed the help. She’s a health aide who just wrapped up two 16-hour weekend shifts at a locked-down retirement home.

“It’s not like we need the food,” Lemus said. “But after my weekend, I really appreciate the help at home.”

The meal service, and teacher parades planned Tuesday through North Scott towns are about the only two things school districts can do for sure. Everything else is in limbo.

“I hope by the end of the week the governor makes a decision on when we come back to school, or at least a deadline when we can make the call,” Superintendent Joe Stutting said.

He thought President Trump’s extension of social distancing “guidelines” through April 30 might have prompted Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to extend school closings beyond the April 13 date she previously set.

While awaiting direction from the governor, North Scott is among public school districts planning for both a possible resumption of classes this year, and a possibility of closing indefinitely, Stutting said.

That means some educators are addressing online instruction for young grade schoolers without district laptops, and internet access for a handful of older students without web service at home.

Other educators are preparing for end-of-year scenarios that dispense with testing, and will require catch-up work when school resumes.

“Staff is looking at what most essential learning needs to take place, whether we get back in session, or get permission to do distance, or online,” he said.

Likewise, school maintenance staff are beginning to tackle some spring work and get a head start on summer work, like floor waxing,

“Our grounds crew will be mowing here in a couple weeks,” Stutting said. “Nobody’s on baseball or soccer fields, so we can pay attention and build up those turfs.

“We’re cleaning things we don’t get to very often. We started our duct cleaning work in the Pit. If extended another month, we’ll start our floor cleaning and things we’d typically do in the summer. Our maintenance staff already ordered LED lights. We’ll start doing those kinds of projects.”

All staff are being paid, he said.

Most year-round employees are reporting to work. Some teacher aides and other classroom support staff are on paid leave.

“We’re calling it COVID-19 leave,” Stutting said.

Some district kitchen staff have been deployed for the meal program.

Meals are prepared in the high school cafeteria and a team of volunteers and district employees deliver.

Last Friday’s deliveries included 115 to Park View, more than 100 to three Eldridge locations and 21 to McCausland.

Stutting urged more to sign up.

“The more meals we serve, the more economical this is. If families need it, we want to help them,” he said.

The meals are available for all children through age 18 with no eligibility requirements. Meals are dropped Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 13 sites throughout the district. Home deliveries are available. Each recipient is given two breakfasts and two lunches.