COVID-19 CASES FROM JANUARY 4-10

Given the increase in cases, balancing the public health need to know with protecting an individual’s privacy, I will begin publishing weekly updates in the district. To better protect privacy, I am combining the four elementary schools data together and will use “<6” to protect an individual’s privacy if the positivity cases are very low in a certain part of the district.

Here is our data from the week of January 4-10:
LevelPositive StudentsPositive StaffQuarantined StudentsQuarantined Staff
High School<6<624<6
Middle School<6<624<6
Elementary10<693<6

Quarantines are due to both in school exposures and out of school exposures. Elementary data is combined to protect our small school cases from being identified.

Quarantined staff includes administrators, teachers, para-educators, custodians, secretaries, and food service. Quarantined staff also includes those that are waiting for COVID-19 testing results.

If your child is determined to be a close contact, the school district in consultation with Clinton County Public Health will contact you directly.

LEGISLATIVE CHANGE ALLOWING ONLINE LEARNING ON SNOW DAYS

As we enter the winter season, the Iowa legislature has passed legislation allowing educational delivery on inclement weather days to be online. This legislation only applies to the 2020-2021 school year.

Given this option and given a significant advanced warning, the district will conduct online learning on days of inclement weather, instead of making up those days later in the year. The district will provide staff, students, and parents advanced warning, based on the information we will have available. The district understands there needs to be some advanced notice of this decision to insure the proper resources, like laptops, can be sent home in order for successful online learning to take place on these inclement weather days. If we experience a weather event without an advanced warning, the district will make-up the day as in the past.

I’m hoping that the weather will not put the district in this situation, but we want you to be informed of this possibility during this winter season.

Thank you for your support of the Clinton Community School District.

COVID CASES FROM DECEMBER 14-20

Given the increase in cases, balancing the public health need to know with protecting an individual’s privacy, I will begin publishing weekly updates in the district. To better protect privacy, I am combining the four elementary schools data together and will use “<6” to protect an individual’s privacy if the positivity cases are very low in a certain part of the district.

Here is our data from the week of December 14-20:
LevelPositive StudentsPositive StaffQuarantined StudentsQuarantined Staff
High School<6<617<6
Middle School<6<623<6
Elementary<6<662<6

Quarantines are due to both in school exposures and out of school exposures. Elementary data is combined to protect our small school cases from being identified.

Quarantined staff includes administrators, teachers, para-educators, custodians, secretaries, and food service. Quarantined staff also includes those that are waiting for COVID-19 testing results.

If your child is determined to be a close contact, the school district in consultation with Clinton County Public Health will contact you directly.

COVID CASES FROM DECEMBER 7-13

Given the increase in cases, balancing the public health need to know with protecting an individual’s privacy, I will begin publishing weekly updates in the district. To better protect privacy, I am combining the four elementary schools data together and will use “<6” to protect an individual’s privacy if the positivity cases are very low in a certain part of the district.

Here is our data from the week of December 7-13:
LevelPositive StudentsPositive StaffQuarantined StudentsQuarantined Staff
High School<6<624<6
Middle School<6<626<6
Elementary<6<643<6
Quarantines are due to both in school exposures and out of school exposures. Elementary data is combined to protect our small school cases from being identified.

Quarantined staff includes administrators, teachers, para-educators, custodians, secretaries, and food service. Quarantined staff also includes those that are waiting for COVID-19 testing results.

If your child is determined to be a close contact, the school district in consultation with Clinton County Public Health will contact you directly.

RETURN TO LEARN PLAN UPDATE—DECEMBER 2

The Clinton Community School District will return to a hybrid model starting on Monday, December 7. The main driver of this decision is the overall health of the school staff has improved since the decision to move 100% online was made on November 16.

The educational delivery will resume like it was delivered prior to 100% online. Here is a reminder of the delivery model:

  • PK-4 students with the exception of Whittier 4th grade will attend their assigned neighborhood school everyday.
  • Fourth and fifth grade at Whittier will attend at CMS everyday.
  • Fifth grade students at Bluff, Eagle Heights, and Jefferson will attend at CHS everyday.
  • Students in grades 6-8 will attend CMS in a Day1/Day 2 hybrid. December 7 is a Day 2.
  • Students in grades 9-12 will attend CHS in a Day 1/Day 2 hybrid. December 7 is a Day 2.
  • Students at the Gateway Learning Center will attend everyday.

The district has deep cleaned all classrooms, common areas, and busses during this online time. The biostatic product that kills COVID-19 on contact has been reapplied as well to provide the safest school environment possible.

The district is modifying its requirements on face coverings to better match CDC guidance and hopefully lower the number of quarantined staff and students. Here are the new requirements:

Face masks are required in the presence of others at all times.  According to CDC guidelines, masks and gaiters must be at least 2-ply.

Shields may only be used if utilized by:

  • hearing impaired students who depend on lip reading and their service providers;
  • PK and Elementary teachers and students language arts instructional times where the ability to see the face is important for language development;
  • students that cannot/have difficulty wearing a mask due to a documented disability or health reasons.

Any one who prefers to wear both a mask and shield is certainly acceptable.

When I have conversations with Clinton County Public Health, the vast majority of the district’s positive COVID cases are being traced to exposure outside of school. If we want our staff and students to be in school and safe as possible, we all need to take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus until a vaccine has been widely distributed. Please be diligent wearing face coverings in public settings, wash your hands often, socially distance, take your temperature before leaving for school, and stay home if showing symptoms.

Thank you for your support of the Clinton Community School District.

RETURN TO LEARN UPDATE—NOVEMBER 16

Today I am announcing that the Clinton Community School District will shift its Return to Learn plan starting this Thursday. The district has submitted a state waiver to move to online learning for all students from this Thursday, November 19 until Friday, December 4.

This decision is based on the current health of our staff and students. Last Friday, 101 district employees were absent from work. Last week we had over 35 positive COVID-19 cases between staff and students and the district had over 400 staff and students quarantined.

There are eight scheduled days of school during this waiver period. Attendance, participation, and work completion are required. Teachers will be offering more “live sessions” than last spring. I cannot emphasize enough the importance the teacher and student working together with the support of the parent so when in-person learning returns, student learning has kept pace.

This decision was not taken lightly. I realize the inconvenience for many families, especially with childcare and an increased responsibility for parents to help teachers monitor their child’s engagement. However, given the gravity of the health concerns our school community is currently experiencing, I believe this is the most appropriate action.

As we get close to December 4, the district will make another announcement in the Return to Learn plan.

Here is our data from the week of November 7-14:
LevelPositive StudentsPositive StaffQuarantined StudentsQuarantined Staff
High School 6 89518
Middle School<6<6104<6
Elementary<61317329

Quarantines are due to both in school exposures and out of school exposures. Elementary data is combined to protect our small school cases from being identified.

Quarantined staff includes administrators, teachers, para-educators, custodians, secretaries, and food service. Quarantined staff also includes those that are waiting for COVID-19 testing results.

If your child is determined to be a close contact, the school district in consultation with Clinton County Public Health will contact you directly.

BALANCING PUBLIC NEED TO KNOW WITH PROTECTING PRIVACY—COVID-19

In the last two weeks, our school district has seen an increase in the number of positive COVID cases. Up to this point, we had experienced about 3 positive cases per week in the district. Given the increase in cases, balancing the public health need to know with protecting an individual’s privacy, I will begin publishing weekly updates in the district. To better protect privacy, I am combining the four elementary schools data together and will use “<6” to protect an individual’s privacy if the positivity cases are very low in a certain part of the district.

Here is our data from the week of November 2-6:
LevelPositive StudentsPositive StaffQuarantined StudentsQuarantined Staff
High School<6<68214
Middle School<6<632<6
Elementary<6<610813
Quarantines are due to both in school exposures and out of school exposures. Elementary data is combined to protect our small school cases from being identified.

Quarantined staff includes administrators, teachers, para-educators, custodians, secretaries, and food service. Quarantined staff also includes those that are waiting for COVID-19 testing results.

If your child is determined to be a close contact, the school district in consultation with Clinton County Public Health will contact you directly.

A PARENTS’ GUIDE TO SUPPORT ONLINE LEARNING

One of my major concerns in the current Return to Learn delivery model is the online component of the hybrid model for grades 6-12. We are experiencing students that are treating the “online day” as an “off day.” Each of the online days counts towards the 180 days of instruction. Therefore it is expected for students to fully engage on the online day just like an in-person day. If students are only engaging onsite, 90 days of instruction may have consequences in gaps of learning, lack of a foundation for future successful learning, retention, or credit deficiency.

I found this article that provides parents guidance to support online learning. The link is https://blog.edmentum.com/5-things-parents-can-do-support-students-learning-online. I have also pasted the article below.

We need to work together to make all students in grades 6-12 more successful with the online component of the hybrid model.

Here are five things parents and caregivers can do to help their child be successful when learning online:

1. Build a Schedule

Traditional school days provide students with a lot of structure—this is hard to replicate in online e-learning days. For some students, the flexibility of learning online is a natural fit. However, for other students, especially young learners, managing this increased autonomy is a challenge. Students participating in e-learning need to build their own routines and effectively manage their time in order to stay on track. Having a well-thought-out, specific daily schedule is key, and parents can be a huge help not only in building such a plan but also in making sure that it is followed.

Parents can start by sitting down with their student and intentionally discussing what he or she is responsible for accomplishing in their online course work on a daily or weekly basis, how much time those tasks will realistically take, and what other commitments (sports, arts, work, family engagements, etc.) he or she needs to consider. Bring your child’s teacher(s) into the conversation too—teachers can offer valuable insight into the curriculum, their own expectations, and how time will need to be budgeted. Once you’ve talked through everything on your child’s plate, help him or her write out a weekly schedule with designated work time for online courses. Be sure to hang up the schedule in a noticeable place, like on the refrigerator or next to any other family master calendars, to help keep your child accountable and establish an effective routine.

2. Model Hard Work and Persistence

Learning online from home removes many of the systems of accountability that students are used to in the traditional classroom—achieving the same level of success will likely take a higher level of intrinsic motivation and self-directed effort. Just like time management skills, this motivation comes more naturally for some students than for others. Regardless, acclimating to online learning platforms, getting accustomed to self-pacing, and working through the normal, productive struggles of learning more independently can be challenging. Parents and other caregivers can make a big difference simply by demonstrating the ubiquity and importance of these skills in the “real world” beyond school.

Talking to your child about your own work and goals is a great place to start. Tell him or her about difficult projects you’re working on, new skills you’re trying to master, and challenges you’ve faced. For instance, do you have a big presentation coming up at work? Tell your child about the extra time you’re putting in to prepare. Are you in the process of taking up a new hobby? Tell your child about how you’ve had to try and fail. Take time to sit down with him or her while he or she is working on online coursework to tackle some projects of your own. These don’t have to be big talks or perfect examples (and don’t expect to hold your child’s rapt attention), but demonstrating your own hard work and motivated attitude will help your child take a similar approach while learning online.

3. Set Up a Designated Workspace

The right workspace makes a huge difference in students’ mindset and ability to focus. When participating in e-learning, students have the ability to complete their work where they want, so it’s important to put thought into what kind of environment is truly most effective for them and make sure that they have a designated space at home.

Think about your child’s personality and needs as a starting point to create a workspace tailored to him or her, and be sure to have a direct conversation with your child about where and how he or she will be most comfortable completing online coursework. If your child thrives on quiet, make sure that he or she has a desk and comfortable chair in the room. If he or she needs a little more interaction and hands-on accountability, a desk or table in the living room or kitchen may be a better option. No matter what the workspace looks like, be sure that your child has easy access to the materials and supplies that he or she will need to be efficient, like good headphones; a wireless mouse if he or she will be working on a laptop; and plenty of notepaper, pens, and other office basics.

4. Get to Know the Online Learning Platform

E-learning means that students spend their school days immersed in an online program (or maybe several). For parents, taking the time to get familiar with what those platforms looks like, how your child is using them, and what resources are available are some of the best ways you can offer support.

Start by exploring any orientation resources provided by your school or district as well as the online learning platform with your student. Make sure he or she is comfortable navigating content and activities and completing basic tasks like submitting assignments and checking grades. Be sure to spend time on communication tools available to your child as well, like built-in messaging features, video-conferencing tools, and interactive classroom functionality. Many online learning platforms also offer parent portals—be sure to find and explore any tools like this so that you can monitor your child’s progress. If the platform offers any materials or guides specifically created for parents and caregivers, take the time to read through them. Just like at school, the learning ultimately is up to your students, but by familiarizing yourself with the online tools being used, better grasp on what his or her learning looks like and how you can most effectively provide support.

5. Stay in Communication with Your Student’s Teachers

Just because students are learning online doesn’t mean they are learning independently! Teachers still play an absolutely critical role in e-learning—and maintaining open, frequent communication is key to student success. Parents and other caregivers need to take part in this ongoing dialogue to make sure students stay on-pace and get the appropriate help when its needed.

School or district leadership will likely set some parameters around what communication will look like between students and teachers when the switch to e-learning is made. This may be anything from daily live video lessons to once-a-week phone check-ins—many different approaches can be effective. Be sure that you are aware of what the expectations are for your child, and proactively reach out to their instructors as questions or concerns arise. Don’t forget to share successes as well! When you see your child reaching goals, making productive changes, or hitting important milestones, tell the teacher about it—it’s guaranteed that your child will appreciate the positive feedback coming from multiple angles.

Looking for more tips and resources to support students during e-learning days? Check out this blog post for four key steps to help students master time management when learning online!

SEAT BELT POLICY ON NEW BUSSES

The Clinton Community School District will be putting three new busses into service within the next few weeks. Due to a change in state law to enhance student safety, any new busses purchased in the state of Iowa must have seat belts for students.

The following statement below is from the Clinton transportation department which follows the state requirements:

It is the goal of the Clinton Community School District Transportation Department to provide the safest transportation possible. Beginning October 20, 2020, the District will taking possession of school busses equipped with lap and shoulder harnesses as required by the Iowa Department of Education. The District requires that all students riding a district school bus equipped with seatbelts wear their seatbelts as designed by the manufacturer while the school bus is in motion.

All students will receive instruction on the proper use of seatbelts during the twice annual school bus safety drills. Drivers and monitors are not responsible (i.e. liable) for students wearing seatbelts while riding the school bus. Drivers are responsible for instructing students to put on their seatbelts prior to the bus leaving a school.

Students who may require assistance in using their seatbelt should ask the driver or monitor for help so that all students are safely belted in their seat before the bus is in motion. Drivers will announce prior to the bus leaving that each student needs to be in their seat with their seatbelt properly fastened.

Students refusing to use seatbelts create a safety concern for themselves and others, and are subject to school district disciplinary actions. Repeated refusal to wear seatbelts can result in suspension from bus riding privileges.

Please support our efforts in this implementation of enhanced school safety.

UPDATE TO RETURN TO LEARN PLAN

When I announced the Return to Learn plan in late July, part of the plan was to revisit how the district should deliver instruction for second quarter (October 26 –December 22).  This reflection involves looking at how the current plan is working, what is not working, and the best path of the next academic quarter. As I have solicited input from staff, students, and parents, these are some patterns that have become apparent:

  • Overall the district has been successful implementing social distancing, required face coverings, and sanitation routines. 
  • Up to this point, the district has minimized major disruption with the number of quarantined staff and students.  We may be lucky or our procedures have helped, or a combination of both.
  • Some students in grades 6-12 are not engaging on the online day.  This is magnified at the high school given the fact that semester credit will be given on October 23.
  • Some CHS honors and AP students struggling with 100% online learning are asking for some in-person delivery component.
  • Attendance, particularly K-5 has been very good. 
  • Smaller class sizes across the district have helped teachers develop closer relationships and better meet student needs.
  • Overall student discipline is down due to fewer students and new procedures.
  •  The students are getting into established routines and there is concern about change this early in the school year disrupting it.

Although we have minimized major disruptions, our district has been affected by positive COVID cases during the first six weeks of the school year. We have had an average of 3-4 positive cases of staff and students per week so far. The district is averaging 65 students and 8 staff members per week being quarantined due to testing positive or identified as a close contact by Clinton County Public Health. Compare this to the situation recently experienced at North Scott where their district was averaging between 200-280 students quarantined per day eventually closing their high school. We believe our procedures of social distancing, required face coverings, and sanitation routines have helped minimize the number of close contacts and positive cases.

With the Governor’s new proclamation this past Tuesday, it is my hope that it may reduce the number of close contacts identified. According to Clinton County Public Health, social distancing and fidelity to wearing face masks over the nose and mouth will determine if we can keep more students in school.

Here will be the Return to Learn plan until December 22:

Elementary: The current delivery system will remain the same for grades PK-5.  These students will continue to attend every day at their current building sites. 

Clinton Middle School: CMS students will continue a hybrid Day 1/Day 2 cycle. For students who are not being successful on their online day, please reach out to your child’s teachers. I am aware of several interventions that have been implemented already.

Clinton High School: We realize some Honors and AP students need more in-person instructional support. Although teachers are reaching out to students and parents to schedule individual or small group work sessions, we understand the current student schedules do not line up with the available teacher times. The CHS Administration team has been reviewing teacher and student schedules to remove as many obstacles as possible so Honors and AP students could meet their teacher at least once a week. The CHS staff is relying heavily on the district’s Professional Learning Communities philosophy and sharing the best techniques to engage not only AP and Honors students, but all students.  We realize that some of our students are not engaging during the online day, which makes them behind their peers during their onsite learning day. More information will be shared from the CHS Administrative team shortly on how student schedules may look differently, as well as how they will support all students who may be struggling.

This is a challenging time for all of us. I want to educate as many students in-person as possible and follow the health guidance on social distancing and required face coverings. We need to work together for the benefit of all students.

We will revisit this plan in December to decide how we will deliver instruction for third quarter.