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This afternoon, Governor Reynolds held a press conference extending the school closure period until April 30. Since the Governor’s initial recommendation to close schools on March 15, we have desired to return to our schools. We miss our students and the daily joy that they bring us. But for the safety of our students, teachers, and community, we agree and appreciate the Governor’s recommendation to close schools. As a result, the Nevada Community School District will be closed through April 30. This includes, but is not limited to, all school buildings, extra-curricular activities, community events, as well as athletic practices and competitions. We further ask that our playgrounds not be used as the equipment is not disinfected.
Summary of District Action
- The administration directed a safe and orderly process for staff and students to get essential items from the buildings. The buildings have been disinfected and will remain closed to all with the exception of select staff deemed essential to current operations.
- An emergency meal program was established to provide breakfast and lunch to any child age 18 or younger. Services through the District’s food pantry (Cubbies Cupboard) and Backpack Meal Program have also been extended.
- Families were provided optional learning resources to use during the closure. Following the initial release of optional learning resources to families, staff began working additionally to provide more targeted resources which continue to be updated regularly.
- Staff are working hard to stay connected with students on a weekly basis during closure.
Department of Education Guidance on Continuous Learning
Since before spring break, we started curating resources that we quickly developed into a Digital Learning Resources website. These online engagement materials followed guidance at the time from the Iowa Department of Education that encouraged districts to provide engagement materials to students without requiring participation.
New guidance from the Department of Education (April 2) is providing public districts with two continuous learning options. The first is Voluntary Educational Enrichment Opportunities, where student participation is voluntary and no grading or credit is given.
The other option is Required Educational Services where continuous learning ensures that academic work is equivalent to typical classroom work. Instruction would be provided online and students are required to participate, attendance is taken, work is graded, and credit granted.
All public districts are required to indicate which method of continuous learning they will use from April 13 through April 30 by submitting their responses no later than April 10. Districts may combine the two options as a hybrid delivery method for different grade levels in any way that best serves the needs of their students.
During this school closure period, we have been actively exploring what continuing education looks like in Nevada. This has included how we deliver education, determining what it looks like at each level, and how we can support teachers and buildings in this endeavor. We have also been considering challenges related to equity and access, as well as how we serve students with special needs.
Although we have been at work knowing that this extended school closure was a possibility, we had not been informed about what would be required of Districts until this afternoon. With the Governor’s announcement today, we will be moving forward with additional plans based on their guidance. Issues regarding equity, access, credit, graduation, state, and post-secondary requirements will lead our initial efforts towards planning for Required Educational Services at the High School level, and Voluntary Educational Enrichment Opportunities at the PK-8 level.
Template for Continuous Learning
As part of their guidance this afternoon, the Department of Education provided districts a template for continuous learning. Designed to use locally, the areas include:
- Define Teacher and Student Expectations
- Identify Your Delivery Platforms
- Communicate with Internal and External Stakeholders
- Ensure Professional Development
- Define and Ensure Student Access
We have taken the last couple of weeks to incorporate many of these areas. Our immediate next steps include vetting the new guidance to develop an ongoing plan for teaching and learning to best meet the needs of students as developmentally and age appropriate in this new environment.
Linked here is guidance that the Department of Education released today. On a webinar call this afternoon, it was noted that additional FAQ guidance will soon be provided.
With this extended closure period, we know that there will be a lot of questions. The past two weeks have introduced a career-defining time for most educators and we are committed to maintaining our increased level of communication with stakeholders. Above all, know that the Nevada District, more than ever, is both honored and humbled to be of service to our children and community. Our thoughts are with all who are experiencing hardship. We are committed to stand together and we will get through this!
Dr. Steve Gray, Superintendent
Nevada CSD Stakeholders,
We recognize there are a number of questions and concerns as related to COVID-19 and how our school district will navigate this health crisis. This dynamic situation has offered plenty of challenges to be accurate and timely with new developments. By the hour, we continue to receive new guidance from a variety of local, state and federal agencies.
The State of Iowa is recommending that Iowa school districts close for four weeks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This recommendation comes as guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health. As a result, Nevada Schools will be closed for the recommended period of time and is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 13, 2020.
I know there are many questions regarding our announcement of closure. The rate in which this COVID-19 situation is unfolding is unprecedented in our time, and fluid in nature. A few frequently asked questions are addressed below:
Will we provide online (e-learning) to our students during the closure?
No, while we are equipped to provide this service in many areas, we are not currently equipped to provide this service equitably for all students. The District will provide online resources to students and parents to use at their discretion.
Will the District provide meals to students during the closure?
Yes, it is our intent to offer sack lunches for pickup during the closure. The District is in the process of gaining State approval and will communicate the logistics of meal orders and distribution as soon as plans are finalized. The District is also working through logistics to continue the Backpack Meal Program and Cubbies Cupboard (food pantry).
My child’s medication is at school. Can I get this and/or other personal belongings?
Yes, please call your school’s office to arrange a pickup time.
Will schools be required to make up days lost due to the closure?
Indications are that the State will provide discretion regarding the required 1080 hours of instruction currently required. The District will adhere to requirements as determined by the Iowa Department of Education.
How will the District complete state and federally mandated assessments?
Indications are that a waiver will be granted.
What are childcare options in Nevada?
The Nevada Community School District, City of Nevada, Mainstreet Nevada, and Nevada Economic Development Council are currently discussing possibilities to link willing private providers with families in need. Any childcare transaction would be between the willing provider and family in need, but the school district can serve the public as the primary source of information.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. We all have many questions, information is developing rapidly, and guidance is changing daily. We will work together as a community to overcome these challenges.
Dr. Steve Gray, Nevada Superintendent
Tonight, Governor Reynolds announced that she is recommending that Iowa school districts close for four weeks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This recommendation comes from guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health and based on CDC guidelines. Tomorrow, March 16, she will hold a press conference that more clearly outlines school closure expectations, such as expected dates of closure and re-opening. At the time of this message, a time for the press conference had not yet been announced. We will provide updates as they are available to us regarding school closure and other pertinent information.
Nevada Community School District will follow the advice and cancel all programs, activities, and classes effective March 17, 2020. This includes outside organizations who access our buildings including Nevada Community Resource Center (NCRC).
The Nevada Community School District is on a scheduled Spring Break this upcoming week, March 16 – 20. We will keep you updated as we find out more information that will help you plan for the coming weeks.
You can read Governor Reynolds press release at the URL below:
Central Iowa School Districts Unify on COVID-19 Crisis
In light of recent university and public-school closures, many central Iowa school district leaders met Friday, March 13, to collaborate and develop a consistent message for our broader communities. Representatives from the Governor’s Office and other educational agencies were also present. At this time, we believe it is in the best interest of our families and staff to resume school as planned after spring break (Monday, March 23, 2020).
Student and staff safety remains our top priority. We all look to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) for their expertise and direction. IDPH currently believes the risk to our student and staff population is low. We also acknowledge many of our families rely on district-provided childcare and nutritional resources.
We will continue to partner with IDPH and follow their standard protocol for reportable illnesses. This may result in a need to close a specific building, district, or region of schools. IDPH will be the primary source for how we make our decisions regarding COVID-19.
In addition to IDPH, we are in communication with Story County Public Health and the Iowa Department of Education (IDE). Central Iowa school districts will continue to follow the guidance of these agencies and work together to keep students, families, and staff safe and informed.
Where you get your information about this virus is important. Look for information from reliable and trusted experts. Social media posts often report partial or inaccurate information.
What You Can Do To Help
Families and community members can help by following these simple, easy steps that help prevent the spread of ALL contagious viruses, including COVID-19. Practice the same routine hygiene used to help prevent the cold and flu.
- Frequently wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water. If unavailable, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
I wish you all a healthy and enjoyable spring break.
Dr. Steve Gray, NCSD Superintendent
Information has recently been published from the Des Moines Public School District regarding their plan to close schools and resume all classes on Monday, March 30. While their spring break is a part of this time off, it does include two additional days out of school for their students in response to COVID-19 (staff had PD planned for March 23-25).
It is important to know that the Department of Public Health is not, at this time, recommending school closures. We are expecting an announcement and guidance from the Iowa Department of Education and the Department of Public Health regarding schools and COVID-19 tomorrow. This is a very dynamic situation and information will change over time. We will communicate information to our staff and families as it becomes available. We encourage you to review this PK-12 School Guidance document from the Iowa Department of Public Health that was provided to us.
Dr. Steve Gray, NCSD Superintendent