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Coronavirus Update: April 17, 2020

Dear Families and Staff,

This afternoon, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa schools will remain closed through the remainder of this 2019-2020 school year. In addition to no school during this time, all sports, activities and events are also cancelled. The district learned of this news today as the Governor announced it during her daily press conference.

To our students, staff and families: Know that we are tremendously grateful for the sacrifices you continue to make during these trying times – not only regarding education, but in so many areas of your daily life. While a closure for the remainder of the school year is most certainly not what any of us hoped for, the past few weeks have shown us that together, we are capable of tremendous things.

Thank you to our amazing students and families who are working hard to continue learning during this trying time. Since last week, almost approximately 4,300 of our secondary students (over 75 percent!) have logged in to Canvas, the district’s learning management system. At the elementary level, the district is averaging 19,266 daily interactions and 7,690 daily parent interactions.

Our students and teachers are amazing!

Through the remainder of the scheduled school year, we will be here to support this continuous learning and we will continue to actively develop our plans for a return to school next year with a focus on addressing any learning gaps that occur as a result of COVID-19.

For the Class of 2020, we can only imagine the heartbreak that comes with this announcement. We are committed to honoring them and, while we know it will be in untraditional ways, it is our hope that we can provide an opportunity for them to celebrate together as soon as we are able.

Be assured that as a district, we are also 100 percent committed to ensuring that all students on track to graduate will do so. We will share more details next week with seniors regarding course grading options and graduation requirements.

During the remainder of the school year, we will also continue our work to remove barriers to student learning:

  • We will continue serving meals each weekday to students who need them, and will continue providing printed elementary educational resources at those sites on Fridays.
  • We will work to expand options for internet connectivity and student devices at the secondary level for students needing them.
  • We will continue providing educational resources and teacher outreach at the elementary level through Seesaw, email and phone.
  • We will regularly reach out to our students and families with special education and English Language Learner needs.
  • We will continue checking on the well-being of our students and families, and offer assistance when possible as well as connecting them to community resources.

We will continue to provide regular updates to families and staff as we move forward – and together, we will overcome the challenges we are facing. We are #DbqSchoolsProud and our commitment to our students and families will remain unwavering.

Stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,
Stan Rheingans
Superintendent of Schools

Coronavirus Update: April 15, 2020

Here are the latest updates from the Dubuque Community School District:

WEEK 4 ELEMENTARY EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES NOW POSTED
Week 4 of educational materials developed by the district’s Educational Support Team are now available on our EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES WEBPAGE. This week’s resources again include Suggested Learning Resources + Activities, a Social Emotional Learning Guide, and a variety of Student Handouts and Worksheets.

As a reminder, the district’s team has worked to be sure these resources meet the needs of learners across grade levels and of all abilities. Activities not marked with a specific grade level can be used by a wide range of students – look in the accommodations section of the resources for tips on making the learning accessible to your student!

If you are having difficulty with the resources or have questions about how to accommodate the activities for your child, please reach out to your child’s teacher(s) by email or Seesaw for assistance.

Printed copies of these packets will be available at meal delivery sites on Friday, April 17.

STATE OF IOWA LAUNCHES NEW CORONAVIRUS DASHBOARD
The State of Iowa recently launched a new Coronavirus Dashboard webpage that includes the most up-to-date information on cases of COVID-19 in the state. The webpage also includes links to state programs that may benefit families, such as food assistance programs through the Department of Human Services and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) through the Department of Public Health. You can also find this information and resources on the district’s COMMUNITY RESOURCES WEBPAGE.

Coronavirus Update: April 9, 2020

Yesterday, as a district, we launched teacher-guided learning with middle and high school students. While this learning remains optional at this time, we were thrilled that in the first 24 hours, over 3,200 middle and high school students logged into Canvas, the district’s learning management platform, to connect with teachers and participate in a variety of learning opportunities.

At the elementary level, teachers have also continued to interact with students and families while supporting student learning. In the past two weeks, Seesaw (the classroom sharing platform used at the elementary level) shows we have had 9,688 parent interactions and 12,121 student/teacher interactions.

We are thankful for the effort students and families have made to continue learning at home – a remarkable accomplishment in these unprecedented times. We are also proud of the commitment and hard work of teachers and administrators as they have re-imagined learning with students in a matter of weeks.

We continue to actively explore the possibility of meeting the requirements from the state to provide required continuous learning. As we do so, we will continue to focus on offering high-quality, voluntary learning opportunities for students.

The requirements from the state pose significant challenges to public schools given the great complexity in the services we provide to the various student populations of all backgrounds, learning needs and experiences.

Please review EACH OF THE 14 ASSURANCES LISTED BELOW, which are required of public districts choosing to provide required continuous learning. These assurances are not required for private, non-public schools.

We fully embrace our mission as a public school district to proudly and unconditionally serve every single student who walks through our doors, and know that in this broad diversity of our district, we find great richness.

In addition to providing educational services, we also remain committed to supporting basic student needs – helping provide meals for students and bridging the connectivity gap for those needing internet access. While we are providing internet hotspots for families needing them, disruptions in the supply chain globally are presenting challenges to obtaining the quantity needed. We will continue to work through these challenges to best meet the needs of our students.

Regardless of the pressures placed upon us all in these challenging times, we remain inspired by our students, families and staff and will continue moving forward together – we are truly #DbqSchoolsProud.

Stay safe and healthy!


Assurances from the Iowa Department of Education to Provide Required Continuous Learning

1. FEDERAL OR STATE LAWS, RULES, AND REGULATIONS: Applicant acknowledges the responsibility to uphold all pertinent federal or state law, rules, or regulations in the delivery of its continuous learning courses or programs, including but not limited to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA), and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. [ADA, Section 504, IDEA, ESSA]

2. EQUITABLE ACCESS AND SERVICES: Applicant assures that:

a. (A) All students with disabilities receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will continue to be provided with a Free, Appropriate, Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Meetings with Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams will be reconvened as necessary to determine placement and delivery of services.
b. (B) All English learners receiving services under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) will continue to receive equitable services.
c. All students living in poverty will receive equitable access to educational services.
d. All students qualifying as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act will receive equitable access to educational services.

3. TEACHER REQUIREMENTS: All instruction delivered online by the applicant to Iowa students will be delivered by Iowa-licensed and properly endorsed teachers who are assigned to instruct courses in a manner which meets the requirements set forth in Iowa Code 256.41. [Iowa Code 256.41]

4. STANDARDS ALIGNMENT: Applicant’s course content is aligned with the current applicable grade/subject area Iowa academic standards. For courses with content that is not included in state standards, the applicant’s courses are aligned with nationally accepted content standards set for the relevant subjects. [Iowa Code 256.7 subsection 26]

5. CREDIT/CONTENT REQUIREMENTS: Applicant’s current courses meet (and future courses will meet) the credit/content requirements in Iowa Code 256.7(26)(a) and if/when any gaps exist, the gap will be remediated by the district. [Iowa Code 256.7 subsection 26]

6. ADVANCED PLACEMENT: Applicant’s Advanced Placement (AP) courses have been approved via the College Board AP Course Audit.

7. CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION: Applicant’s current and future Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses are aligned to Iowa Code 256.11 and taught by an Iowa-licensed teacher who is also CTE-authorized in the subject area of the course, or has 6,000 hours of hands-on work experience or a BA degree and 4,000 hours of hands-on work experience.

8. FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT: Applicant’s data management systems ensure all student information remains confidential, as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

9. ACCESSIBILITY: Applicant’s web systems must be 508 compliant and conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)2.0 levels A and AA for website accessibility. (See World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) website for definition of terms)

10. RESPONSIBILITY: Applicant retains responsibility for the quality of courses, web systems, and content offered, regardless of any third-party contractual arrangements.

11. ASSESSMENT: Applicant agrees to comply with state assessment requirements, as applicable. Iowa Code 256.7(21)

12. REPORTING: Applicant agrees to provide all information as directed or as requested by the Iowa Department of Education and other federal officials for audit, program evaluation compliance, monitoring, and other purposes and to maintain all records for the current year and five previous years.

13. NOTICE OF CHANGES: Applicant agrees to inform, in writing, the Iowa Department of Education of any significant changes to its program including, but not limited to, changes in assurances, fiscal status or ownership.

14. ADDITIONAL ASSURANCES: Applicant agrees to abide by any additional assurances required by the Iowa Department of Education.

Coronavirus Update: April 8, 2020

Here are the latest updates from the Dubuque Community School District:

WEEK 3 ELEMENTARY EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES NOW POSTED
Week 3 of educational materials developed by the district’s Educational Support Team are now available on our EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES WEBPAGE. This week’s resources again include Suggested Learning Resources + Activities, a Social Emotional Learning Guide, and a variety of Student Handouts and Worksheets.

Printed copies of these packets will be available at meal delivery sites TOMORROW, Thursday, April 9.

FRIDAY MEAL SERVICE CLARIFICATION
Following is a list of meal site options/modifications for Friday, April 10:

Audubon Elementary School (Host: Boys and Girls Club)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. One meal served Thursday, April 9.

Boys and Girls Club (Host: Boys and Girls Club)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. One meal served Thursday, April 9.

Comiskey Park (Host: Boys and Girls Club)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. One meal served Thursday, April 9.

Convivium (Host: Project Rooted)
MEALS SERVED AS SCHEDULED ON FRIDAY, APRIL 10.

DREAM Center (Host: DREAM Center)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. Meals for Thursday AND Friday served Thursday, April 9.

Hempstead High School (Host: Dubuque Community Schools)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. Meals for Thursday AND Friday served Thursday, April 9.

Hoover Elementary School (Host: Boys and Girls Club)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. One meal served Thursday, April 9.

Lincoln Elementary School (Host: Boys and Girls Club)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. One meal served Thursday, April 9.

Marshall Elementary School (Host: Boys and Girls Club)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. One meal served Thursday, April 9.

Prescott Elementary School (Host: Dubuque Community Schools)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. Meals for Thursday AND Friday served Thursday, April 9.

Resources Unite (Host: Project Rooted)
MEALS SERVED AS SCHEDULED ON FRIDAY, APRIL 10.

Super 20 Mobile Home Park: WALK-UP ONLY (Host: Dubuque Community Schools)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. Meals for Thursday AND Friday served Thursday, April 9.

Table Mound Mobile Home Parks (both drop-off locations): WALK-UP ONLY (Host: Dubuque Community Schools)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. Meals for Thursday AND Friday served Thursday, April 9.

Terrace Heights (Host: Boys and Girls Club)
NO MEAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 10. One meal served Thursday, April 9.

Coronavirus Update: April 7, 2020

Here are the latest updates from the Dubuque Community School District:

MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER-GUIDED LEARNING BEGINS TOMORROW
As a reminder, middle and high school students will begin teacher-guided learning tomorrow, Wednesday, April 8. Students should login to their district email account after 8 a.m. on Wednesday for information from their teachers on how to access lessons. These optional lessons will be offered in an on-demand format, allowing students to complete the new learning tasks as they are able. Students will communicate with and receive feedback from their teachers during this learning. Students and families should connect with their teachers and principals via email with questions about their learning activities.

NO MEAL SERVICE THIS FRIDAY; EDUCATIONAL HANDOUTS AVAILABLE THURSDAY
Because it was a scheduled no-school day, there will be NO MEALS SERVED this Friday, April 10. Meals for both Thursday and Friday will be available for pick-up this Thursday, April 9. Week 3 printed educational resources will also be available at meal sites on Thursday.

TIMING OF DISTRICT UPDATES
The district’s first update to families regarding COVID-19 was sent on March 9 and since March 12, a daily update has been sent each weekday. As information continues to be fluid and regularly changing, the district will continue to provide regular updates to families and staff as we move through these challenging times, although it may not be on a daily basis if there are no significant updates to share. As always, all of the most recent information regarding our COVID-19 response efforts can be found on our website at www.dbqschools.org and on our official district Facebook or Twitter pages.

April 6: A note to our families…

Dear Dubuque Community Schools Families,

I recently shared with our teachers that I saw a social media post recently commenting on how the past week has felt like the longest year ever. I’m sure that you can relate – the coronavirus situation is evolving daily, information is constant and shifting, and the uncertainty has brought new pressures and challenges to our everyday life.

As families, we know that you are now faced with juggling work, lack of work, or working from home, in addition to providing childcare, continuing social distancing efforts – and now, helping your student continue learning.

We will make it through this together.

Our teachers are longing for connections with students. They miss the energy that comes with the classroom and are working hard to navigate the new territory of keeping students engaged and learning remotely.

We are all striving for some sense of normalcy in times that are anything but normal.

As we receive and work to understand the constantly evolving guidance from the state in order to finalize our learning offerings for students in upcoming days, we will continue to put students and families first in our decision-making.

And, while we can’t promise that the upcoming months will be without bumps, we can promise you the following:

  • We will be flexible – understanding that families will do as much as they can and what is best for them during this time. We ask for that flexibility and understanding in return as the situation continues to evolve.
  • We will work to provide educational opportunities as equitably as possible, working to recognize and reduce barriers to learning exacerbated by this situation – knowing that for many families, their first focus will be on maintaining basic human needs during this pandemic.
  • We will continue communicating regularly and transparently. We won’t always have all the answers. Information will change and evolve, and tomorrow’s answer may be different than today’s due to changing circumstances. But we will always communicate and listen.
  • We will approach all of our work with empathy, realizing that this global situation presents pressures that challenge our emotional wellbeing and can enhance feelings of anxiety, fear and uncertainty. We ask that you remember that our teachers and staff are dealing with these same pressures while working to put our students and families first.

As you know first-hand, our staff are amazing – and they continue to do astounding work with students and families under arguably the most challenging circumstances we have faced in our lifetime. Families, it’s important that you know the same goes for you – we know that you are under immense pressure, are making immense sacrifices and are doing incredible work to support your family.

We will make it through this together.

On behalf of the Dubuque Community School District, we are proud to be part of the bedrock of this community. We are proud of how our families, district and community have stepped up to serve the most vulnerable among us.

We are #DbqSchoolsProud and we are in this together.

Sincerely,
Stan Rheingans
Superintendent

Coronavirus Update: April 3, 2020

Here are the latest updates from the Dubuque Community School District:

MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER-GUIDED LEARNING
As we navigate the new guidance from the Iowa Department of Education and work to gain additional details regarding student learning options, we will continue to move forward with teacher-guided learning opportunities next week as planned. Planning for this learning has been underway for more than a week and is not in response to yesterday’s announcement by the Governor. Moving forward with this optional learning does not lock the district into voluntary or required learning, but allows us to proceed as we wait for more details about the application process from the Iowa Department of Education next week.

Beginning on Wednesday, April 8, middle school and high school teachers will provide optional, teacher-guided learning opportunities for students. Students should login to their district email account after 8 a.m. on Wednesday for information from their teachers on how to access lessons. These optional lessons will be offered in an on-demand format, allowing students to complete the new learning tasks as they are able. Students will communicate with and receive feedback from their teachers during this learning. Students and families should connect with their teachers and principals via email with questions about their learning activities.

ELEMENTARY TEACHERS CONTINUE OUTREACH AND ACTIVITIES
For our younger learners in the district, the focus during this time is keeping students learning, engaged and curious. Teachers throughout the district are adding activities for students in Seesaw and they continue to reach out to families via Seesaw, email and phone calls. There are also a variety of worksheets and activities for elementary students in the EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES section of our Coronavirus Webpage. With a higher-than-anticipated demand at meal sites, we ran out of handouts at meal sites today. Copies of today’s handouts will be available at meal sites again on Monday, April 6, for those who were unable to get them today.

REMINDER: SCHOOL PLAYGROUNDS ARE CLOSED
Given the difficulty in maintaining the sanitization of playground equipment, and the volume/frequency of contact points on the equipment, all school playgrounds in the district are closed to the public until further notice. This closing comes following a similar decision by the City of Dubuque and a number of other municipalities. While it may be tempting for students to use these areas on nice days, we ask families to refrain from doing so in order to reduce any spread of COVID-19.

RESOURCE FOR TALKING ABOUT CORONAVIRUS WITH CHILDREN
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed a new resource for families – a Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The resource is designed to help families think about how an infectious disease outbreak might affect your family—both physically and emotionally—and what you can do to help your family cope.

Coronavirus Update: April 2, 2020

GOVERNOR EXTENDS SCHOOL CLOSURE THROUGH APRIL 30

This afternoon, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued an emergency proclamation extending the statewide school closure through April 30. In addition to no school during this time, all activities and events are also cancelled.

The district learned most of the information shared in the Governor’s press conference as it occurred, leaving many questions unanswered and many other points needing clarification.

We understand and share in the frustration of families who have questions and seek additional details – we strive for those details as well. We are working to gain additional information and will share it with you as soon as we can provide accurate, understandable details regarding the shifting guidance we continue to receive.

While many questions remain, be assured that our teams have been planning to serve families knowing that an extension of this closure was a possibility.

Here are a few items we know today:

  • As we shared earlier this week, beginning next Wednesday, middle school and high school teachers will provide optional, teacher-guided learning opportunities for students. We will continue to move forward with this plan while also awaiting guidance from the state to determine whether or not it is feasible to make these opportunities required.
  • For elementary students, teachers are adding activities for students in Seesaw and they continue to engage with students and families via Seesaw, email and phone calls.
  • As always, we will strive to equitably serve the needs of all students in our district by reducing barriers and providing services in order to make learning accessible to all.
  • Regardless of whether the district chooses a voluntary or required method of continuous education, as defined by the state, the requirement to make up instructional time has been waived by the Governor.
  • We have been told the application to select either the voluntary or required option will be available on Monday, April 6, with a due date of Friday, April 10. We will review the application once available to determine the next steps moving forward.
  • We are committed to ensuring that seniors on track for graduation are able to graduate.
  • We will continue to provide no-cost meals for students who need them during this time.

Again, the district learned most of this new information today as it was announced publicly and we know that you will likely have additional questions as well. While we don’t have the answers to many of the questions at this time, we are working to obtain them and will continue to share them in future updates.

These are challenging times, and we know many individuals and families are facing unanticipated pressures. As a district, we are committed to moving through these times with you and are always committed to supporting the health, safety and education of our students.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Coronavirus Update: April 1, 2020

Here are the latest updates from the Dubuque Community School District:

NEW EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE TODAY
The second phase of educational materials developed by the district’s Educational Support Team are now available on our website. This week’s resources again include Suggested Learning Resources + Activities and a Social Emotional Learning Guide, with the addition of a variety of Student Handouts and Worksheets for this week. There are resources available for elementary, middle and high school students. Each guide again includes suggested activities, accommodations to assist learners of all levels, and links to a variety of helpful suggested online tools.

Printed copies of these packets will be available at meal delivery sites this Friday, April 3.

VIEW EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES on our Coronavirus Webpage to access these materials.

SPECIAL EDUCATION SUPPORT
We remain committed to assisting our students requiring special education during this closure and we have developed our educational resources to include accommodations for learners at all levels. While the district is not requiring instruction during this closure, and therefore not providing Individualized Education Program (IEP) services, special education teachers are continuing to reach out to their students and families to provide support in navigating district resources and helping keep students engaged in learning. If your child is eligible for special education services and you have not yet been contacted by their special education teacher, please feel free to reach out to the teacher or building principal for support.

Coronavirus Update: March 31, 2020

Here are the latest updates from the Dubuque Community School District:

ONLINE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS
As a district, we continue working hard to keep up with changing circumstances and shifting guidance from our state education leaders. Last Friday, the Iowa Department of Education changed course when it reversed its long-standing guidance and announced that it would provide an expedited application process for school districts to provide online education for students.

While we have yet to see this application process, we believe it is important to move forward with providing students with learning. Our school principals and members of our educational support team have been meeting regularly to discuss how to best proceed with providing learning opportunities to students.

Tomorrow, the district will launch a second phase of educational resources for elementary, middle and high school students and families. These resources will be expanded to include a variety of handouts and worksheets students can do at home.

Beginning mid next week, middle and high schools will transition to providing students with optional, teacher-guided lessons and feedback from teachers on student work. Elementary teachers will continue to reach out and engage with students and families via Seesaw, email and phone.

Teachers will guide instructional activities and tasks that support daily learning for those wishing to participate, but we will not attempt to replicate a six-hour school day. With many adults working from home and juggling other responsibilities, we want to provide flexibility for students to complete learning at times when they have family support and supervision.

Keeping internet connectivity in mind, we are in the process of acquiring hotspots that will be available for checkout to families of middle and high school students to reduce the barrier of internet access. More details will be forthcoming regarding checkout of these hotspots.

While we know that online delivery will never look the same or be as beneficial as the education that happens in our classrooms, we are committed to providing the best possible experience to students as we navigate these uncertain times together.

We are finalizing the specifics of how this learning will be delivered and will share additional information later this week.