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.

RETURN TO LEARN UPDATE: PLANS FOR DISRUPTION

The first two days of school have been an overall great experience for students and staff. Over 82% of our families have elected for face to face instruction. Many have expressed that the opportunity to teach and learn onsite is a privilege.

I want to recognize the cooperative and respectful attitudes of our students so far! It will be critical for all of us to maintain fidelity with the health procedures that are in place so we can continue to meet onsite. Temperature checks at home, required face coverings, and participation in sanitation routines are critical for the health of all.

Here is a link of a flow chart developed by the school district and Clinton County Public Health to help families make decisions regarding student health:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZFuNLuN0t18aXFGbNMBOVHCHHMVYH5GE/view?usp=sharing

The most recent Governor’s proclamation defines that a school district must receive approval from the Iowa Department of Education if conditions favor a move to all online learning. The Iowa Department of Public Health will be involved and communication with the school district with any testing results and contact tracing.

The school district has followed best practice guidelines with clustering students with social distancing guidelines. While every situation will be evaluated separately, we believe that in most scenarios that if a positive case occurs with a staff member or student, the contact tracing may be limited to a classroom or pod of a school going into quarantine. The rest of the district will continue to attend. However, if there is a significant spread throughout the district, we would submit a waiver to the DE to move to online learning. By the Governor’s proclamation, the waiver will be for 14 days before returning onsite.

Thank you for the great start and supporting Clinton Schools!

REVISED CCSD RETURN TO LEARN PLAN

Due to Governor Kim Reynolds proclamation last Friday, the Clinton Community School District is amending its Return to Learn plan to meet the new requirements.

For PK-5 students, there is no change in the plan.  PK-4 with the exception of Whittier 4th grade will attend their neighborhood elementary or preschool center everyday.  Whittier 4th and 5th grade will attend Clinton Middle School in a separate pod.  Fifth grade from Bluff, Eagle Heights, and Jefferson will attend at Clinton High School in a separate part of the building.

The delivery plan for grades 6-12 will change to an A/B hybrid.  That means every student in these grades will alternate an onsite learning day with an online learning day.  There will be further communication from Clinton Middle and High School administrations on the expectations of students in this hybrid model.

Students served at the Gateway Learning Center will attend onsite every day.

The school district’s Return to Learn plan does allow a family to opt into a full-time online learning option for either medical reasons or choice.

This plan preserves the core values of educating as many students face to face as possible while following Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines.  The district also respects the difficulty of childcare and the belief that younger learners are more dependent on their teacher.

We need your support during this difficult time.  Let’s work together the provide the best educational opportunities for our kids in this challenging pandemic.

Here is a video link with the same information:  https://youtu.be/2PeuRTaiapg

 

HOW THE SCHOOL DISTRICT WILL START ON AUGUST 17

The Clinton Community School District will start the 2020-2021 school year in a hybrid model of onsite and online learning.  This decision is based on the most current guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health, the belief that a face to face model is the best for academic learning, that younger students are more dependent on teachers with their learning, that to meet social distancing guidelines with all students cannot be achieved with our current classroom space, and the current reality of childcare options for families.

The Clinton Community School District will begin August 17 by providing onsite instruction for grades PK-6 and grade 9.  Students in grades PK-4 will attend their selected or assigned neighborhood or PK attendance center with the exception of 4th grade at Whittier.  Grade 5 that attend Bluff, Eagle Heights,  or Jefferson will attend in an isolated pod of classrooms at Clinton High School.  Grade 9 at Clinton High School will be separated from the  5th graders in a different part of the building.  At Clinton Middle School, the 6th grade will occupy a pod while the 4th and 5th grade students from Whittier will occupy a different pod of the building.  Whittier is a smaller building than the other three elementary schools and therefore making it necessary to move both 4th and 5th grade to reach social distancing guidelines.

For grades 7-8 and 10-12, about 70%-80% of the students will be served with an online learning environment.  The other 20%-30% of grades 7-8 will receive face to face instruction at CMS and another 20%-30% of grades 10-12 will receive onsite services at CHS.  These students will be selected by school staff based on lack of participation of required online learning last spring, equity of resources at home like internet access, and providing selected services that are nearly impossible to do online.

The 70%-80% of the students in grades 7-8 and grades 10-12 will receive an online curriculum delivery through Google classroom similar to their experience last spring.  The school district will closely monitor students and may move a student onsite if they are not being successful.

These online students will have opportunities to meet with teachers for check-ins and supports onsite.  Also, certain classes like marching band, welding, auto, building trades, etc, may meet in person due to the nature of those courses.  I want to stress to online students that there will be opportunities to be in the building, perhaps take a class or two onsite, and receive support from teachers.

Students assigned at the Gateway Learning Center (GLC) will report onsite.  The number of students attending  GLC makes social distancing guidelines easier than other buildings in the district.

We are requiring the following health guidelines for students that will engaging in their education onsite:

  • Temperature checks taken every morning from home.  A parent should contact the school if a thermometer is not available in the home.  This is the major area the district needs your support.  A student experiencing a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above should stay home.
  • Participation with sanitation procedures that will be implemented in each classroom and building.
  • Participation with wearing a district-provided face shield.  Best practice guidelines are for social distancing and face coverings.  If a student would prefer his/her PPE, that will be allowed.

There will be an online option for students that either themselves or family members are at high risk due to pre-existing health conditions.  Also, if a family prefers online learning, that option is available.  Please contact Trista Bratcher at tbratcher@clintonia.org if you would like to discuss this option.

It is my hope that we will reach a point during the school year where we can serve all students onsite.  This is a very fluid situation and I anticipate changes throughout the year.  I understand there are more questions than answers at this point.

There will be multiple communications in the following weeks with more detail.  This pandemic has created multiple challenges.  Please work with us to best support all students.

JUMP START

The Clinton Community School District will be offering a Jump Start program for identified students at elementary and middle school levels the week of August 3-7.  This is part of the district’s “Return to Learn” plan submitted to the state in response to the pandemic.  Sessions will run morning only for three hours during this week.

The premise of Jump Start is to better position some students to be successful on the first day of school which is August 17.  The focus will be on relearning school routines, do some initial screening in language arts and math, provide some social emotional learning, and begin building relationships with this year’s teachers.

The  administration team and teachers at both the elementary and middle school level will be examining the data from the end of this school year to prioritize the students that will be invited to Jump Start.  High priority will be given to those students that did not actively engage during online learning this spring, those students that have identified learning gaps or were below grade level before COVID-19 caused disruption, and students whose learning styles best fit in a face to face model.

Families will be notified if their child is recommended for Jump Start by mid-July.  Attendance is voluntary, but strongly recommended for the benefit of the student.  Given the disruption of school the last 2.5 months of last school year, we want to hit the ground running this upcoming school year.  Jump Start can help in that regard.

If you have questions about Jump Start, please email Mr. Kenney for elementary questions at brkenney@clintonia.org or for middle school, aprinsen@clintonia.org.

 

 

RETURN TO LEARN PLAN

The Clinton Community School District has submitted its “Return to Learn” plan to the Iowa Department of Education and it has been approved.  The plan addresses a plan for having all students onsite following Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines, a second plan of providing online learning for all students with supports for social-emotional and equity considerations, or a third plan that is a hybrid of the first two.

The hope of the district is to have as many students onsite as possible on August 17.  We have been planning on implementing best practice,  recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE),  and rigorous sanitation procedures.

The district is currently determining its expectations in terms of face coverings.  The national discussion and the recent research on face coverings along with the state trends of COVID-19 infections is a moving target.  Many of the district discussions with health officials is about the expectation and feasibility of wearing face coverings with the age of the student.

The recommendation of the health professionals is to have families take temperatures of students from home.  Any students or staff with temperatures at 100.4 degrees or higher are required to stay at home.

The school district has invested in a bio-static product that lasts between 60-90 days and kills the coronavirus on contact.  It will be applied on all high contact areas such as keyboards of laptops, desktops, door handles, buses, etc.  The district will also do a daily cleaning of these areas to follow best practice.

Each school will be implementing sanitation routines throughout the day.  The school district has purchased  hand sanitizers at 70% alcohol solution which is the recommendation to kill COVID-19.  These routines will become a systematic part of the day.

When students are physically present at school, each building will be implementing social distancing guidelines to the best of our ability.  One major recommendation is to seat students in one direction to limit face to face situations where one student may cough.  Classroom space will be maximized for the most space available between students.

The district has also planned for families or students that have health factors that place them “high risk” with exposure to COVID-19.  We have entered an agreement with Edgenuity, an online platform that aligns with the district standards and benchmarks that is supported by Iowa licensed teachers.  Please contact me at tbratcher@clintonia.org if you have interest and would like to discuss if this is the best option for your child.

With the situation being so fluid, I will continue to update you as planning for the new school year approaches.

Thank you for your support of Clinton Schools!