The arrival of Covid-19 led to the cancellation of all regular spring and summer AAUW programs. With a great deal of optimism, planning, and modification AAUW is holding its first meeting of a new programming year. On Sept. 21 Melanie DeBay, Director of Community Education, ISD 318, will discuss Itasca Community Education and the options available. ISD 318 is a part of the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative which bills itself as 7 School Districts and one Community College. It is composed of all area districts as well as ICC. Class registration and participation is open to all residents. Covid-19 is affecting classes and has required flexibility in planning.

Class sizes are limited to account for proper social distancing, many classes will be available in- person or using a virtual platform, and classes may be cancelled or modified depending on the pandemic. Health and well-being is a top priority with masks expected for the classes, proper social distancing, and hand washing. The district staff is diligent in maintaining the safe cleaning and hygiene practices.

DeBay grew up on the Iron Range and is a graduate of Greenway High School. She received both her BA and MS from Bemidji State University. She received her Administrative License from Minnesota State University Moorhead. While in this program DeBay did a practicum with ISD 318 Community Education and says she fell in love with the district and the Community Education Collaborative. She has worked with the district since 2017 and is excited to work with so many vibrant educators while providing enrichment and services to the area, especially during such challenging times.

The meeting on Sept. 21, at United Methodist Church, will begin with a business meeting at 6:30 and program from 7 to 8 p.m. Attendance is limited to 30 people and is by prior reservation only. Call/text (360)333-0228 for a reservation. Priority will be given to AAUW members but guests are welcome if space is available. Masks are required and social distancing rules are established. There will be no food or beverages at the meeting.

AAUW offers various interest groups in addition to regular monthly program meeting. The virus has affected most groups. Each book group did have one outdoor meeting and further meetings will be decided by the group. The Walking Group continued to meet, first just to walk, and then as the weather warmed, to gather for socially-distant talks. Lawn chairs were spread in parking lots and along trails. As the weather cools the lawn chair gatherings may stop but the group continues to walk outside through all the seasons.

The mission of AAUW is advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. Special recognition is given to the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote. Additional information is available at www.aauw.org or at http://grandrapidsaauw.blogspot.com. Grand Rapids AAUW provides scholarships through ICC and the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation as well as supporting the Education Foundation and Legal Advocacy Fund of the national organization. The branch also supports STEM camperships at ICC.

In principle and practice, AAUW values and seeks a diverse membership. Branch membership is open to any individual who has an associate degree or equivalent, bachelor’s or higher degree, or is an undergraduate student enrolled in a two or four year institution. Marj Lavalier may be contacted for information at 218-326-2716 or gloriestoast@gmail.com.

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