February 1, 2021
During this year of uncertainty, I am always excited to share some of the celebrations about our district and the great work being done here. For example, we recently launched a new website and app that allows us to connect with more patrons, alumni and community members. If you have not been on our new website, we invite you to check it out at www.roadrunnerpride.org. Our new app can be found on both app sites at I-35 CSD.
Additionally, this past week we celebrated our 100 day of school! One hundred days of in person learning--during a global pandemic is AWESOME! Finally, we are seeing some encouraging numbers from our recent FAST scores. Here is one example
While this does not represent all our data and progress, it is exciting to see our students making growth. Teachers are working to teach the current year’s content, support the students in areas where they may have deficits from the previous year, and teach remotely. I am thankful our students have this dedicated staff to help navigate through this unprecedented time.
We have had a few questions about our proposed calendar changes and questions about our current conditions as a result of the new legislative guidance, the availability of the vaccine, snow days, and virtual learning. The following information is where we are currently in regards to these questions and some thoughts around them. If you have any additional questions, thoughts, concerns, please feel free to contact myself and/or any member of the school board.
Here are some of the questions we have received.
What exactly are the proposed academic calendar changes being considered by the Board? I will be recommending the board consider extending our ½ day early outs for K-4 on Friday as well as FLY Fridays for grades 5-8 on Fridays.
How long will the proposed changes be in effect? I will be recommending the changes be in effect for the remainder of this school year. The idea was to give parents time to make preparations for Fridays for the remainder of the school year.
Will this set a precedent for upcoming years? No. The Board of Education approves the academic calendar used each year. The above recommended changes are a direct result of the current COVID pandemic.
Can any student come to school on Friday under the proposed recommendations? Yes, we currently have students come to school at the request of the teachers or because students request to be here. If students are not attending in person, the expectation is they are participating in remote learning on Friday. The only difference for the calendar is that we would be dismissing at 12 p.m. for all students.
How will the new legislation impact the proposed calendar changes? The new legislation requires schools to provide a 100% in learning option for parents. Our recommendation is to change our school calendar to provide an early dismissal on Fridays. All students are given the option to be here on Friday under the proposed recommendation.
Will any of this change when the vaccine is more readily available? We are currently working with public health to determine when the vaccination may be available. Currently, we are not given any timeline for when our staff will have the vaccine made available. We do know that we need to offer remote learning for the remainder of the year. Having the flexible time to work with students (those students who are here in person and those learning remotely) has enhanced our ability to meet students where their needs are.
Will we be having snow days this year or will all the snow days be virtual learning days? As a result of the changes made to the current schedule to implement our Return to Learn Plan, we moved from counting hours to counting days. By Iowa Code students need to attend school for 180 days or 1080 hours. We currently have 180 days on our calendar. As a result, if we do not use virtual learning as an option for days when school may be cancelled as a result of weather, we will need to add those days to the end of the school year. We considered that if we were making remote learning accessible as a result of COVID, we could use that same process to continue the learning in the event of snow days.
While we know it is unusual to make the request for a calendar change in the middle of the year is uncommon, I believe we are making the recommendations to benefit our students and support our teachers.
There is a public hearing tonight at 6 p.m. in the high school media center before the board meeting if anyone is interested in attending. I also encourage you to communicate with the board or contact me with any questions.
Sharon Dentlinger (signed electronically)