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COVID-19 Updates (most recent update: 3/26/2020)

COVID-19 Communication Updates
From the Office of the Superintendent

Scroll down for previous updates.

Updated: March 26, 2020

MCSD has committed to share new information as it becomes available. At this time, there is little new to report that is not covered in the news media. 

COORDINATION OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS

The District is working with over 30 other community organizations to coordinate services and resources through Aligned Impact Muscatine (AIM) which is working in conjunction with United Way of Muscatine. The District is in frequent communication with Public Health and other state agencies.\

The community should be aware of the efforts of Trinity Muscatine Hospital. Trinity Muscatine has a COVID-19 plan in place and has operationalized that plan. The hospital is treating patients with appropriate and efficient practices and care. Trinity Muscatine is a valuable resource in our community and their efforts to serve during this health crisis is greatly appreciated.

ONLINE LEARNING/EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

The Iowa Department of Education has developed a statewide task force to develop a process for online learning for schools. The first meeting was held Thursday with a sense of the urgency for this and the reality of the enormous undertaking to develop a meaningful electronic education experience. The district will be awaiting further guidance.

MCSD will be working to develop a larger list of educationally engaging resources for parents to access. The goal is to have that available by the end of next week. Again, this is first and foremost a health crisis. The district urges everyone to follow the guidelines for personal hygiene and social distancing. This is the best way to ensure the safety of your family and the quickest route back to normalcy.

GRAB-N-GO MEALS

The district’s meal program is being used by a large number of our students. Wednesday the district served 972 meals (breakfast and lunch) to 486 students. For more information on the meal sites and times go HERE. *A new food distribution site has been added at Cedar Hills Apartments and times have changed at two of our non-school sites. **The USDA just released new guidelines. Effective immediately, children do not have to be present to receive meals at the meal sites.

FOOD PANTRY/BAGS OF BLESSINGS/OTHER FOOD NEEDS

The district’s monthly food pantry (River Bend Mobile Food Pantry) will continue as scheduled on April 14th from 4-6 p.m. at our district central office location at 2900 Mulberry Avenue. Instead of requiring families to come into the central office building to pick up their food, we will pre-box the food to allow families to drive up and pick up the food items. To provide further support to our families, we are also exploring moving the monthly food pantry to bi-weekly during our school shut down.

The district is grateful for the additional food donations from many of our wonderful community organizations. We would like to offer starting Friday, March 27th the opportunity for families to receive additional food. If you need additional food please contact Jeff Keith at jeff.keith@mcsdonline.org or Mike McGrory at mike.mcgrory@mcsdonline.org and we will arrange a time to deliver the food. 

The Bags of Blessings program will continue during the school closure. Families who have signed up for this program will be able to pick up their bags every Friday from 11 a.m. -12 p.m. at the MCSD Administration Center or Jefferson Elementary locations. 

STAYING INFORMED

Governor Kim Reynolds has been holding daily press briefings and the public can access those on the Governor’s Facebook page or via YouTube (search in YouTube “Governor Reynolds Press Conference Livestream”). The community is encouraged to stay abreast of all information possible as the COVID-19 situation is very fluid and with changes daily. 

Take care Muskies. Check on each other as much as possible (virtually, phone, text). Stay connected with your support system of friends, family, and colleagues.

Jerry Riibe
Superintendent


Updated: March 24, 2020

Today marks day two of MCSD’s school closure due to the COVID-19 response. During uncertain times it is the not knowing what comes next which can cause anxiety. No one should assume anyone has all the answers to the multitude of questions. The district will attempt to keep the community as informed as possible with communications twice per week. Sometimes, there may not be much new information to share, but what we know will be shared.

Future Planning

Planning for the near future is difficult due to the uncertainty of where our exact landing point will be. Currently, there are two possibilities. 

First, we convene on April 13th having missed 15 days of instruction. Hopefully, the state testing is suspended this year, which could free up to five days of instruction. The loss of time in this scenario can be adjusted and the current school calendar would end as published. Depending on the recommendation of Iowa Department of Public Health and the Governor’s office, large gatherings may still be regulated.

If schools do not convene on April 13th, the planning becomes more complicated. In essence, the break from the current schedule begins to look more like the break taken for summer. In this case, there are a number of possibilities to explore which include: 1) if schools could reconvene in early May, the current calendar can be extended, with current seniors finishing at the end of May, and 2) if schools were to reopen in June, an abbreviated fourth quarter could run for three to four weeks for grades PK-11. Again, these are possibilities and should not be considered definite solutions.

An important thing for everyone to keep in mind is this is a bump in the road and not a permanent detour for our children’s education. The teachers and principals in MCSD will adjust, modify, and connect our students with the best possible education situation. The next 7-10 days will provide a lot of information about what the next 90 days may look like.

Learning Opportunities for Students

Parents are also encouraged to review the sites provided on the district web page as possible engagement activities for students. The list will grow as parents and teachers make suggestions. This is also a great time to teach the hands-on skills of learning: food preparation using a recipe, cleaning, organizing, and sorting, or simple home fix-it projects.

Grab-N-Go Breakfast and Lunches

On Monday, the district provided 335 meals to students through the Grab-n-Go locations. That number is expected to increase. The Food Service personnel, lead by Alisha Eggers, deserve the appreciation of the community for providing this service.  Please refer to the sites available if this is a service your students need to access.

Stay safe Muskies!

Sincerely,
Jerry Riibe
Superintendent of Schools



Updated: March 19, 2020

These are unique times presenting challenges including health, education, economics, and social order. There are more questions than answers for all of us. However, we will take on these challenges together and do our best to move forward together. This is an opportunity for all of us to practice the core of citizenship which is being responsible for our individual behavior and for the well being of our community, state, and nation.

This communication will provide our best information to date. Please understand this situation is very fluid and changes as information streams from federal and state sources and data regarding the virus become known. Our plan is to communicate at a minimum weekly to our Muskie Family.

FOOD THAT’S IN WHEN SCHOOL IS OUT

The Muscatine Community Schools are committed to providing food for those students in need. This communication will provide information regarding locations, times, and procedures for our meal sites: MEAL SITE INFORMATION and MENU

IOWA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION GUIDANCE AND AT-HOME EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

The Iowa Department of Education has provided additional guidance to school districts. You can read that guidance HERE. In addition, a LINK to an article from the Omaha World-Herald has some parent information regarding how to keep children engaged within a schedule at home. The article also provides links to various on-line resources that may be accessed by parents to provide some educational experiences for their children.

The following are some points of information:

CALENDAR ADJUSTMENT

  1. There is an official calendar change for Monday, April 13, 2020. Originally, this day had been scheduled as a no school day for students and staff. If school is convened at the end of this initial closure, school will resume on Monday, April 13, 2020.
  2. If school is convened on April 13, teachers will make the adjustments needed in their classrooms to accommodate the loss of 15 days of instruction. The state has waived the minimum number of hours needed for school operation, so Muscatine Community School District’s students will not make up the 15 days missed. At this time, no one knows if schools will definitely open on April 13.  It is important we do not get ahead of the information we currently are being given.

SCHOOL CREDITS/GRADUATION/PROM

  1. The Iowa Department of Education has given local districts latitude in granting credits for courses and for graduation. Again, if school resumes on April 13th, it will be minor adjustments, if any. However, if the closure is extended, the district will develop a protocol to ensure students are not penalized by the closure. The district, as recommended by the Dept of Education, will use latitude to ensure seniors are able to graduate and be able to pursue post-secondary plans. The granting of credit for non-seniors, will also be handled in a way that will not impede educational progress.
  2. Questions regarding Prom and Commencement are important for our students and parents. At this time, there can not be any definitive answers.  These decisions will be impacted by when schools are reopened and when the recommendations for large group gatherings are lifted.

STATE TESTING

At this time, the State of Iowa has suspended state testing. There will be additional information dependent upon when schools are reconvened by the Department of Education.

ONLINE LEARNING

The Department of Education has reminded districts that on-line learning is an option only if districts can ensure all students have access, special education services can be provided, and it is a curriculum/program that has been approved by the Department of Education. The reality is almost all Iowa schools will not be able to meet those requirements. (Please see the linked news story above regarding home activities).

SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES

Special Education services are dependent upon general education services being delivered. While schools are closed, special education services are also suspended.

During the closure period, all buildings are closed to the public. Access will be limited to essential school personnel. 


Previous communications:

COVID-19 UPDATE – School Closure Announced (March 16, 2020)

COVID-19 Procedures and Protocols starting March 23, 2020 (March 12, 2020)

International Travel for Students – COVID-19 (March 7, 2020)

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