The Marshalltown School District has shut down all school buildings for this week after six probable cases of the H1N1 virus were discovered. While it’s a public health emergency, Iowa Department of Education spokesperson, Elaine Watkins-Miller, says these aren’t free days off for the kids.
Watkins-Miller says since they are shutting down all the schools in the district, they will have to make the days up to comply with the state law that requires 180 days of instruction. She says the district will have some options for making up the days. She says there are some options, but those missed days are typically added on to the end of the school year.
Schools that have missed several days for snowy weather have made up the difference by adding hours to the school day — which is one of the other options. Watkins-Miller says the leaders in the school district were the ones who made the decision to cancel classes — but they had help.
Watkins-Miller says it was a local decision, but they did work with the Education Department, Department of Public Health, and the local health department in making the decision. Watkins-Miller says the shutdown will disrupt the education process, but she says the health concerns overrode the instructional concerns in this case. She says the students will get caught up as the district will make up the days.
Watkins-Miller says this also provides a great opportunity for parents to read to kids, or to have the kids read themselves to keep the learning process going at home. State officials received confirmation of the first case of the N1H1 virus in Iowa Saturday, this weekend and the governor declared a public health emergency to make the state eligible for federal resources to help fight the outbreak.