August 14, 2020

Welcome Back

It was so great to be back in buildings with our staff today! Enjoy a quick Welcome Back video from our team.

Now for a few items of information, I would like to share with you.

At Monday night’s Board Meeting, the Board took action on a Decision Matrix for the Consideration of Movement Between Return to Learn Plans at both the school and district levels. Assuming the positivity rate for Dallas County holds near or where it is we are planning to begin the year on our hybrid model. The hybrid model is a parental choice of fully in school or fully online and that decision was already made by families. As a reminder, we do not have an A/B or other alternating day or week model.

Specifically from the matrix, consideration for the district to potentially move to completely online instruction is based on the county positivity rate, and that rate, as well as other county-level data, can be found here. If the Dallas County positivity rate meets or exceeds 10%, that will trigger a special Board meeting to discuss if the district will transition to fully online or to consider an application for a waiver from the Iowa Department of Public Education (IDOE). At that meeting, additional sources of data will be discussed.

The consideration of one or more schools to move to fully online instruction is guided by student attendance rates. If the student absence rate for a building increases by 10% or more beyond the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) from 2019-20, that will trigger a special Board meeting to discuss if a school is to transition to fully online or to consider an application for a waiver from the IDOE. The attendance rates for ADA in our schools ranged from 94-96% last year. We would need to see rates at a school of 84-86%, depending on the school, to create the need for the special Board meeting on a potential transition to fully online.

Additional details for all of this information can be found here. Please know, we want our students in school. We all play a part in supporting that they begin there and continue to attend. Thank you for wearing face coverings in public, practicing physical distancing, frequent, correct hand washing, minimizing your time out in public, and staying home when you are sick.

PowerSchool, Schedules, and Fees

PowerSchool will be shut down from Friday, August 14 – Thursday, August 20 to build schedules. At noon on Thursday, August 20, you will be able to login to view your child/ren’s schedule. Typically fees need to be paid in order to see your child/ren’s schedule(s). Because of the timing of rebuilding schedules this school year, you will be able to see schedules without having paid the fees. That said, we would appreciate a commitment to getting fees paid prior to the start of the school year.

Revised 2020-21 School Calendar

Last night the Board met in a special meeting and approved changes to the calendar. That revised calendar can be found here. The changes include:

  • Brick and mortar students will continue to have an August 25th start date.
  • August 28th is a no student day for brick and mortar students.
  • Online students will begin the school year on Monday, August 31st.
  • Friday, September 4th, is a no student day for students in the brick and mortar. Students in the online environment may be expected to participate in asynchronous learning activities.
  • Wednesday, September 9th will be a full day of school for all students and staff. It is no longer an early dismissal.

Instructional Hours

The minimum amount of time required to complete a school year is 1080 instructional hours or 180 days. Our district, like the majority of districts in the state, is on an “hours” calendar. Each school year the number of instructional hours in which students engage varies to some degree across the grade spans in our district. The same is true for 2020-21. The state requirement is that the school or schools in the system with the fewest number of instructional hours, if they are not the same across the district, is the school/s that is/are used for the 1080 hour determination.

In a previous email, we acknowledged the grade span with the fewest instructional hours for this school year are the grades 8-9 schools. While the online students will be starting three school days later than the brick and mortar students, they will still meet the 1080 hour threshold that is required for a school year.

We are excited to get back to teaching and learning. Adjusting and pivoting in real-time is unlike anything we’ve experienced before, however, I am confident that by continuing to work together, we will adapt and provide the best experience possible for everyone. Having been in schools today, be assured everyone is hard at work to ensure we are ready to welcome our students back to Waukee!

Best,

Brad