Return to Learn Update
At the July 13, 2020 Board meeting a number of topics regarding the Health and Safety portion of our Return to Learn were discussed. I want to share that information with you as we move closer to starting a new school year.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
The Iowa Department of Education requires that we address three priorities in this subsection of the overall plan:
- Ensure Ongoing Workplace Safety
- Support Mitigation Strategies
- Monitor the Health & Safety of Staff, Students, and Families
A team of 20+ Waukee staff members has spent several weeks working through drafting recommendations. This process has been guided by a number of resources as well as feedback from building leaders, along with local health and medical professionals.
This is subject to change and is still a working document as guidance evolves. Once this plan is finalized, our buildings will further operationalize this plan into operating principles.
After many discussions with our Health and Safety team as well as our community health experts, cloth face coverings will be required for all students and staff. Full face shields may be an option for those students with medical, physical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear cloth face coverings. In a limited number of situations, we may have students with medical requirements where a face covering would be prohibitive. Face coverings are one of many mitigation strategies that will be implemented in our buildings.
The district will provide both cloth face masks and a full face shield for employees before the start of the year. Families will be asked to provide a cloth face covering for their student(s) to be worn while on the bus and in school. We will have disposable masks should a student or staff member need one while at school. We will have more information regarding when breaks from masks will be permissible as well as how to help your child understand the importance of wearing a face covering. We believe each of you play an important role in the successful implementation of face coverings as we enter the school year and we are appreciative, in advance, of your work.
This is an area of school services also being disrupted by COVID-19. We are working through solutions, however, depending on the restrictions and limitations that are likely to be in place, we are considering limiting access to our current pay-to ride-service.
As some of you know, we currently allow for families to pay for transportation services when residences are inside the minimum distances allowed for by Iowa Code and Board Policy. We are considering moving to the minimum distances from school legally allowed under Iowa Code for service to be required by our district. For elementary and middle-level students (K-8) that is two miles and for high school students (9-12) that is three miles. For reference, our current minimum distances are one mile (K-5) and two miles (6-12). We also provide transportation for students whose walk requires crossing major roadways/intersections. We plan to continue to honor the situations that involve crossing major roadways/intersections. We will further evaluate the minimum distances utilized. If you are currently a pay-to-ride family, we want you to know this now so you can make contingency plans for different arrangements for transportation as may be necessary. We plan to have these decisions made no later than July 28, 2020.
RETURNING TO SCHOOL IN AUGUST
You will be asked in a survey tomorrow to designate your preference for in-person or online education for each of your children. While the preference survey is not a binding commitment at this time, it is important that you are as transparent as possible with your responses so we can plan for staffing considerations in our physical buildings as well as an online school.
It is worth keeping in mind the online version of school will look different than the end of the most recent school year. Rather than being required for grades 10-12, it will be required for all students in grades K-12 who choose this option. Attendance will be taken in this model. Required online learning will likely include an increase in both real-time and recorded instruction, classroom discussions, moderated chats, opportunities for online assessments, and more. Whether online or in-person, as communicated prior, all students will be provided a device to use this school year in order to access our new learning management system.
By the end of the month, families who have indicated a preference for the online learning model will be contacted with more details regarding the expectations of the instructor, the student, and typical online school day. At that time they will be asked to commit to their plans for the entirety of the first semester.
VIRTUAL COMMUNITY TOWN HALL – July 16, 6-7 p.m.
We will be hosting a Virtual Town Hall meeting, via Zoom, to have a dialogue about returning in August and help answer questions. To better prepare myself, I would encourage you to submit questions prior to the Town Hall so I can do my best to have answers to those items. There will be questions we simply don’t have answers to yet, but our return to learn committees will continue to work towards those answers. Please submit your questions here. Due to size limitations in Zoom, we will be recording the event to post on our website afterward.
I will reiterate, our priority is the safety and overall health of children, staff, and communities based on available evidence. It will take each one of us to keep our Waukee families and staff safe and healthy as we prepare for returning to school.
Dr. Brad Buck, Superintendent