Indianola CSD Staff and Community:
At last night’s board meeting I emphasized four personal priorities in navigating the COVID-19 challenge. These priorities are consistent with the efforts being made by the board and staff:
- Keep our students and families safe
- Care for and support our staff
- Do our part to limit community spread of the pandemic
- Make good decisions and communicate well
There is much to be figured out, and we are trying to get the details right. We will regularly communicate through email, the district website, and district Facebook. Here are a few things we know and are working on:
The board acted on the recommendation of the Governor and IDPH and closed school through at least April 12 last night. If the closure ends April 12, I am proposing that April 13 will be a student attendance day and not staff development as the school calendar states. The four state activities associations (boys, girls, music, and speech) have indefinitely suspended spring activities. Activities Director Lee Nelson has communicated with coaches and sponsors. I know this is very tough for our committed participants and coaches/sponsors, but it is part of the organized effort to prevent community spread.
The Legislature has stated that instructional hours missed through April 12 will not need to be made up, and if the closure extends further, Governor Reynolds will have authority to further waive instructional hours. This is a key piece of information that impacts a number of decisions.
We are working on the best way to offer meals to children during the period of the school closure. There are some excellent community partners and skilled individuals helping with this.
We are committed to paying staff during the closure. Hourly employees without designated duties for any period of the closure will be considered “on call” and available for different tasks throughout the district. Hourly wages will be paid as normal in both March and April. Teachers will not have additional contract days to “make up” as a result of the closure. We will announce times that teachers can access needed items at school, but school access will be limited to assist in ongoing deep cleaning efforts. There is a lot of valuable work that can be done remotely, and we will issue some guidance on that.
The district will not be requiring online coursework for students during the closure although there are many free online resources to utilize. We will share some suggestions. There may be special situations in which communication and work has already been set up online, e.g. a high school AP course, that allows teachers and students to continue class activity online. In most cases teachers will make instructional adjustments to class content and activities when the closure is over.
Events scheduled during the closure will be postponed or cancelled. For example, the March 23 showing of Screenagers will be rescheduled. Irving intersession will be cancelled, and refunds will be issued. If the closure ends April 12, prom and post prom will be held. People are going to need to be flexible and understanding as many decisions are made at the building and district levels. Nothing about this year is typical!
Indianola Child Care will remain open for students currently enrolled per school board action of March 16. The Iowa Department of Human Services stresses the need of childcare during this crisis. ICC is taking steps to follow CDC guidance at this time. Early Childhood Director Kim Post is communicating with ICC families.
As previously mentioned, updates will be shared on the district website and Facebook. The actions we are taking now will make a difference as we move through this national crisis. Months from now we will be able to look back and see that. Please do your part individually and as families to limit travel and maintain social distance. These efforts are about protecting our community’s most vulnerable and trying to prevent a spike that overwhelms our healthcare system. As someone who was in the hospital having hip replacement just before the virus really took off in Iowa, I appreciate those health professionals so much! They are incredible, and we need to do what we can to support them in their critical work.
We will make it through this current challenge, and everyone can help! Thank you for your support, understanding, and efforts!
Superintendent Art Sathoff