EAST UNION SCHOOL UPDATE 7/7/2020
Good Afternoon Eagles! I wanted to follow up with a message from a few weeks ago about the RtL and school plans
this fall. Schools all around Iowa are preparing to reopen and resume classes this fall operating under a 'new normal',
where the questions we ask often lead to more questions with fewer answers.
So let's get this question out of the way: we plan to start school with students in attendance at our brick and mortar
buildings as scheduled on August 24th as originally planned.
We will not be extending the school year. You may ask how will we be making up for the lost learning? We do
realize we lost approximately 8 weeks of learning. While teachers can evaluate lessons to see what wasn't covered,
we also need to consider whether or not a particular skill was introduced, developed, mastered, or advanced. The
necessary level of skill development helps us determine how we might best approach remediation. At the same time,
we need to pay particular attention to the fact that not every student will need the same level of instruction. Or even
have similar skills that need attention. Because of these factors, a certain amount of personalization will be
necessary. For that reason, a one size fits all solution does not sound reasonable. From an academic standpoint
adding days is unlikely to work.
First, think about this concept from a purely objective point of view. Our students missed almost a quarter of the
school year. There is no way to fit 8 weeks of instruction into a one or two week period. It's impossible and defies
logic. Second, lengthening the school year is not supported by scholarly educational research.
So what will we do? We do know a comprehensive Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). This means we tailor
instruction to the needs of our students using an ‘on time model of remediation’. Not all students are going to need
the same remediation at the same time over the same material.
At the same time, we need to be clear that we haven’t completely shut the door on modifications to the school
calendar. What does that mean? We don’t exactly know what's going to happen as we move forward. Until students
return to school and we start working with them, we really don’t know what they need. In any event, adjustments to
the academic calendar should only be made when we have a clear picture of what we would do with that time and a
way to demonstrate it truly is a value added benefit for students.
If for any reason you are overwhelmed, anxious, and even frustrated. Truth be told, we all are. While the cliches are
becoming automatic responses, it is fitting to once again state the obvious: there is no blueprint with which to do this
work. It has never happened before.
I first want to point you to the Return to Learn section which soon will be on our new website and encourage you to
bookmark it, as it will be further updated throughout the course of this summer. This page contains a number of the
resources we have been using in our planning. The fact is, we don’t know yet what this fall is going to look like when
school starts. All of us hope our return will look similar to how it has looked in prior years. But, we need to prepare
for the reality that it might not. Truthfully, as we embark on the 2020-2021 school year, it is important that we be
prepared for a whole host of disruptions.
Our Return to Learn Plan (RtL) is built on the premise of ‘asynchronous learning’. Simply stated, it is based on the
idea that we are equipped for students to learn material at different times and at different locations. Sometimes
referred to as ‘location independent’, our plan is designed in a way where we can switch seamlessly from on-site
traditional learning to remote learning with little advance warning.
Here you will find a plethora of documents that hopefully will answer your questions: how teachers are preparing for
the school year, what mitigation efforts our schools are employing (coming soon), and what is the difference between
hybrid and remote learning. You will also find quick and easy access to a summary document of our plan. Keep in
mind this is designed to be a living breathing document. Admittedly a lot of what we have been discussing thus far is
conceptual in nature. That's because conditions continue to change and the guidance we are receiving is fluid. As we
get closer to the start of school more details will emerge.
Right now, some details are sparse for two primary reasons: we are still learning, and a lot can change between now
and August 24. What we know today, almost two months in advance of the start of the school year, is likely to be
very different a month from now. While we are applying the lessons we learned this spring, we still certainly have a
lot yet to learn. One critical missing piece right now is a description of the mitigation and safety procedures that will
be in place for the start of the school year. We hope to have concrete steps in place by the end of July, but right now
some of the guidance we are receiving is contradictory.
We will communicate with our families and community as soon as possible with those decisions. In the coming
weeks, our districts will be sending additional communications with further details to our school districts’
stakeholders. Again, thank you for your continued support of our school districts. Please know that we will continue
to collaborate with each other to support our East Union Community.
Our intentions based on our Return to Learn plans were to return under the least restrictive environment possible. We
will implement what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of our community. The health and
safety of students, families, administrators, teachers and school staff will continue to be our number one priority, and
we will continue to rely on public health experts to inform all decisions made.
Update: June 26, 2020
Good Afternoon, I wanted to share with you the latest guidance set forth by the Iowa department of Education. I will say I was a little surprised as the Reopening Guidance did not line up with what school leaders were expecting. Based on previous guidance, such as that for baseball and softball, administrators were anticipating more specifics.
Our intentions based on our Return to Learn plans were to return under the least restrictive environment possible. We will implement what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of our community. The health and safety of students, families, administrators, teachers and school staff will continue to be our number one priority, and we will continue to rely on public health experts to inform all decisions made.
We will keeping a few general principles to have in place upon school opening on August 24th...
The East Union School District will implement recommended safety protocols to the highest degree possible;
The East Union School District will work closely with the Union County Department of Health to promote safety in our school building
The East Union School District will be transparent with all stakeholders that some level of risk will always be present when children and school district employees occupy school district facilities.
The East Union School District recognizes the need for consistency in areas of operations while recognizing that individual differences in classroom sizes, and areas of our school facilities, may lead to some inconsistencies.
A summary of our return to learn plan is below for your review. We will keep you updated on specifics as things progress this summer. As you can gather things do change periodically. Ok maybe weekly!!
Guidance from the Iowa Department of Education June 25th
In all, the department guidelines recommended:
That sick staff and students stay home
Not screening students and staff when they arrive at school, as one symptom might not indicate the presence of a communicable disease and some individuals might be asymptomatic
Teaching and reinforcing hand washing or, if soap is not available, teaching the use of hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content
Protecting the confidentiality of staff and students “in their personal health who may or may not wear a face covering”
Providing the appropriate personal protective equipment and training for staff whose duties put them at medium- to high-risk of exposure to COVID-19
Indicating, should districts require more than what department guidance outlines, that those measures are a local decision
Implementing preventive health changes if a student or staff member becomes sick
Posting signs about how to stop the spread of illness
Having a framework for routine cleaning practices of facilities, including high-touch surface areas and buses.
(This is currently part of our return to learn plan)
If schools receive reports of a student or staff member who has contracted COVID-19, the guidance recommended officials maintain confidentiality of those reports and contact their local public health agency directly. The agency may require contact tracing and self-isolation measures.
Local school districts can opt to require more than what the state guidance outlined, but “should only do so in consultation with public health and legal counsel,” according to the department.
“The words schools use when communicating matter,” the guidance reads. “ ... Schools are reminded that when not using the Department’s guidance word for word, they should indicate this was a locally-determined distinction.”
School boards are authorized, if the governor has proclaimed a public health disaster, to close schools due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Those decisions, according to Thursday’s guidance, would be made at the local level.
The guidance does not address how schools will restart instruction in the fall, a question districts themselves should answer in the “Return to Learn” plans that Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo previously required.
Also there is the new guidance received by IAHSAA/IGHSAA you will notice this is far more stringent than the guidance above. See attached. Please keep in mind as you receive communication from our coaches there is a difference between the current guidance from the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Boys and Girls Athletic Associations. Our coaches will be following the guidelines presented to us and will be making sure to keep safety in the forefront. We are excited to have activity back in our school. We have missed everyone!
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to let me know. Our administration will be coming out with more specifics in the near future.
Have a fantastic weekend!
Update: May 1, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions: 4th Quarter 2020
We hope to answer all of your questions – as soon as we possibly can. Here are some of the frequently asked questions we have received. Watch for updates, as things do change rapidly.
Can schools continue to support driver's education coursework and/or "behind the wheel" driving time while schools are closed?
The Department of Transportation has legal authority over driver's education. They have taken steps to help driver’s education programs such as allowing virtual classroom instruction for driver's education. In addition, Iowa Administrative rule 761-634.4 has been temporarily waived by the Iowa DOT Director, which establishes certain requirements for the behind-the-wheel driving components of driver education. More information can be found at https://iowadot.gov/mvd/driverseducation.
Look for something in the next few weeks.
I will be working with Mr. Kinyon on a plan for the East Union CSD.
Can our teachers grade student work (assignments, tests, etc.) that is assigned/recommended during closures if we are providing voluntary enrichment?
Schools cannot grade student work that is newly assigned, or recommended to be completed, during school closures (including new opportunities).
However, schools can update student grades for work that was assigned before school closures in three situations noted below.
We will allow students to turn in missing work that was assigned before school closure, and the work may be graded during school closure.
Our teachers will allow students to improve their grades on work that was assigned and turned in before school closure, and they may grade the updated work during school closure.
Students will be allowed to retake exams that occurred before school closure, and teachers may grade the updated exams during school closure.
With those things in mind we encourage our students to work with our teachers to get the best grades possible.
Will pass/fail classes be accepted by the Iowa Regents institutions for entrance requirements?
Yes, if students earn high school credit for a class, even if the class uses pass/fail grading, it will count towards entrance requirements at Iowa Regents institutions so long as a student receives a passing grade.
With the opening of fitness centers are the schools fitness areas open?
All school facilities remain closed. This includes both indoor and outdoor facilities until further notice.
Will my student move onto the next grade level?
All students, Pre-K through 8th grade, will move on to the next grade level for the 2020-21 school year. Students will receive an end-of year progress report that will be based on all learning prior to the closure.
All students in grades PK-8 will continue to be provided with voluntary learning opportunities through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, with a scheduled last day of May 22, 2020.
We recognize that there will be some gaps in learning. We will be working on a “return to learning” plan yet this year, to plan how we will ensure the essential content missed this year will be covered in the 2020-21 school year.
What about the status of high school grades?
Look for something soon on this..
When will scheduling for next year take place?
Mrs. Thompson will begin this process next week. Students please check your email for updates.
Have any decisions made regarding graduation?
We know high school graduation is a once in a lifetime event so we would like to offer an experience as close to normal as possible. After reaching out to our seniors and gathering their input we would like to set a July 12th date for graduation. We feel a July date provides the best opportunity for a traditional graduation ceremony and doesn't interfere with many other activities in July and August. If for some reason things haven't improved we will be reaching out to seniors and to gather input on how they might wish to to take part in an alternative celebration of the Class of 2020. Please know that we are making decisions based on safety and what is reasonable and realistic. There may be restrictions on how many people may attend, to ensure social distancing. Details about public attendance will come after we have clarification on what is permissible from either the Iowa Department of Education or Union County Public Health.
Will we have summer sports?
A decision on summer sports will be made on June 1, 2020.
What if we were unable to pick up locker and classroom items this past week?
If you were unable to make it please call 641-347-5215 and set up a time to pick up. We only ask to give us a little time to make sure we can get things ready for your arrival.
Please allow me to use this venue to give a “HUGE” shoutout to all of our staff who are working hard to make things as positive as possible for our school, students, parents, and community. We appreciate “ALL” of you!
I also want to thank all our students and families for your flexibility and patience while our school remains closed due to COVID-19.
Look for more information as time passes.
Phone (641) 347-5215
“The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.” - Seth Godin
Learn With Passion Believe Anything Is Possible Follow Your Curiosity
April 24, 2020
Personal Item Pick-up
We have fielded many requests from students and families to come to the building to retrieve personal items from lockers and classrooms. Because of the extra safety measures, our teachers and staff have cleaned out classrooms, and lockers placing the items in bags, tagged with names by grade and classrooms. All bags have been staged in the concourse. Parents/students can come on Thursday April 30th from 11a.m. to 4 p.m to pick-up their personal items. Cars can pull up to activity doors on the North side of the building with everyone staying in their vehicles indicating their student(s) name/grade/teacher (elementary) and bags will be placed in an open trunk.
East Union Grab N’ Go Feeding Program Extended
We found out today they will be extending the Emergency Feeding Program through June 30, 2020. This could be lengthened in the future depending on the status of the COVID-19 orders by the governor. Our plan is to keep operating in the same manner we have with Monday and Thursday Grab N’ Go’s from our locations is Afton, Arispe, and Lorimor.
April 17, 2020
East Union Students, Families and Staff,
On April 17, 2020 Governor Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. This is a sad day for schools throughout Iowa and we are disappointed that we will not be able to finish the school year in our traditional manner. We do not have all the answers at this time, but wanted to share what we do know:
How will learning take place moving forward since school has been closed for the remainder of the year?
East Union will continue with the Continuous Learning Plan through the end of 2019-2020 school year.
We encourage all students to take advantage of these opportunities. Once school resumes next year the more you do know the less difficult it will be then.
Our secondary teachers are working with all students who would like to improve their third quarter grades. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity.
How will grades be issued for the second semester?
We are currently working on a plan. Look for guidance next week.
Will the Grab and Go lunches continue?
‘Grab and Go’ lunches will continue to be offered at the same times and locations through the end of the school year.
The Governor mentioned we could go back to school prior to August 24th. What will the East Union CSD do?
At this time there are no plans in place. There are many factors to take into consideration regarding the start of school. I can assure you once we know we will let everyone know.
Return-to-Learn Plans are required to be submitted into the state no later than July 1, 2020.
We are waiting for detailed guidance on the content of the plans which will come in the next week or two.
We will consider what we need to do to support and focus on consideration of students’ academic and social-emotional-behavioral learning and mental health needs. As well as staff safety and wellness.
Will we have sports this summer?
Spring sports are canceled. The Governor and Iowa Department of Education said they would make a decision on summer sports by June 1st, 2020.
What about prom, and graduation?
Decisions about East Union prom, graduation, etc. will be forthcoming soon. Dates will be set when we have a better idea when things will open up. Or what alternative options we can develop.
When will Drivers Education be offered?
We are waiting for guidance from the state on this. As soon as we know we will get the information out.
Will I be able to get into the building to get my stuff out of my locker(s)?
Our administrative team will be talking this next week to see how to best provide opportunities to get your items.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. I will do everything to answer as best as possible. We appreciate your patience as we work through our plans to best continue to learn with passion, believe anything is possible, and guide you to follow your curiosity. Most importantly know WE ALL MISS YOU! Being an Eagle is more than a job. We do this with LOTS of LOVE and our hearts are broken without our students. We will continue to strive to make the East Union CSD a first choice for all families!
East Union Extending School Closure
April 3, 2020
East Union Students, Families, and Staff,
Yesterday afternoon in her daily press conference, Governor Reynolds ordered the closure of all schools to continue through April 30, 2020.
This communication is to notify you that the East Union Community School District will follow the Governor’s order and close our schools as a strategy to combat Covid-19. I think we can all agree that the last several weeks have been some of the most difficult that we have ever endured as a school community. Yet despite our circumstances, I think we can all agree that the last several weeks have been incredibly unpredictable and difficult for all members of our school community. Despite these circumstances, I continue to be impressed with the way our district has pulled together to make the best of the situation.
One of the issues that we have wrestled with the most is how to ensure that our students continue their learning during this time and still ensure that safety remains the top priority. The East Union Community School District has chosen to provide a variety of learning and enrichment activities for our students shared directly from our teachers. While these activities aren’t “required learning,” we strongly encourage parents, families, and other caregivers to support participation while students are at home.
Our district was also given the opportunity to make teaching online required for all students and staff. Under this scenario, all students would be required to participate, attendance would be taken, and all work would be graded. While this is an appealing opportunity, we do not believe this is our best option for our students and our families. We know that not everyone has equitable access to devices and the Internet at home. Due to this lack of equitable access to the internet and devices at home confirms that we simply cannot guarantee equitable learning for all EU students at this time.
We understand you have many questions about how this extended school closure will impact your children. We are continuing to work with the lowa Department of Education, lowa's Area Education Agencies, the Public Health Department, and our neighboring districts to make decisions that are in the best interest of our students and our community. We will continue to communicate the updates and these decisions as quickly and accurately as possible.One thing is for certain, however; we are all in this together and we will seek answers that make sense given these unprecedented times.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions.
Ken Kasper, Superintendent
East Union Community School District
Frequently Asked Questions for Students/Parents and Families about Continuous Learning
What method of communication can we expect to receive from staff?
Each grade level will be making contacts through various sources (not limited to) email, phone calls, See Saw, Zoom, Google Meet
Our ECC program will be using both See Saw and their ECC Facebook page to post enrichment opportunities
Our secondary staff will be communicating through Google Classroom and various other delivery options
When can we expect to hear from our students' teachers?
Our ECC and Elementary staff will be making contact 2-3 times a week. Teachers will be contact to let you know days of communication.
Our secondary staff will be contacting students to share enrichment opportunities by subject area. We know having everyone contact on the same day can be overwhelming. So our staff will set up specific days and times to deliver enrichment opportunities throughout the week. Each staff member will keep this schedule throughout the time we are under school closure to help with planning and consistency. Enrichment opportunities will be offered in the morning and each staff member will have office hours specific to that course daily in the afternoon. Office hours will be available to help students and provide feedback necessary for understanding and growth.
What do voluntary enrichment educational opportunities look like for our students?
Engagement accompanied by timely feedback
Educational enrichment will focus on essential conceptual ideas
The essential components they need to get for the year that are critical to student learning
Challenging enrichment activities
If a school district decides to offer voluntary educational enrichment opportunities will they have to make up for the missed days of instruction?
What is the definition of “Continuous Learning” for the remainder of this school year?”
“Continuous learning” means any methodology used to extend learning beyond brick and mortar district buildings -- online learning, e-learning, distance learning, and virtual learning. The range of instructional methodologies should meet the unique needs of all students and school districts.
What happens to students who can’t access online enrichment?
Continuous learning is not necessarily delivered online; it may also be delivered by providing paper packets to students and families and/or using teleconferencing. We want our staff to do their best to engage every student, and to be as flexible as possible by recognizing individual circumstances.
Who should we contact when we have questions or concerns regarding our students continuous learning enrichment opportunities?
Contact should start with the staff providing the enrichment opportunities
Building administrators are another option to help make that connection.
Dawn is also available to make connections to your students' teachers.
What if school is closed for the rest of the academic year? How will schools make up for the lost instructional time? And how will this affect students?
At this time, we are proceeding under the Governor’s current directive for schools to be closed through April 30. However, the continuous learning plans being developed by the districts will provide a framework for providing meaningful educational experiences for students should any future extensions be made.
What do we know about spring and summer sports?
This continued response to the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) moves the previously announced potential return date from April 13 to May 1 for the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the Iowa High School Music Association, and the Iowa High School Speech Association.
The IGHSAU and IHSAA are still working to offer spring and summer sports opportunities, provided they can be done safely and follow CDC, state, and local guidelines. The IHSMA (music association) and IHSSA (speech association) are collaborating with member schools to provide up-to-date guidance for teachers and participants through this prohibited period.
IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger. "We will do what we can to help plan for their eventual return to school and hold out hope that we can offer the activities that so familiar to them and their schools."