Governor closes schools until August

Posted 4/17/20

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced this morning that all of the state’s schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Reynolds made the announcement during her Friday morning press …

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Governor closes schools until August

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There will be no more “normal” classes for students this school year.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Friday that all of the state’s schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Reynolds said that COVID-19 data shows that the state has not yet reached its peak and therefore it would not be safe to reopen schools on May 1.

In addition, spring sports have been canceled, and the Department of Education will make a decision about summer sports by June 1.

Schools will have to put together and submit to the state a “return to learn” plan by July 1 detailing their plans to reopen in the fall.

Reynolds announced that she is waiving the late August start dates for schools, giving districts the option to start earlier.

Area schools have begun working on plans to adjust to finishing out the school year.

Mid-Prairie

Mid-Prairie High School students began mandatory online learning last week, while kindergarten through eighth-grade students take part in voluntary lessons.

“While I certainly understand the governor’s decision during this difficult time, I was really hoping we could come back in May and the seniors could finish up their year in our school building,” high school Principal Jay Strickland said in a Friday letter to parents.

Strickland said that the school is reaching out to seniors to update them on credits and graduation progress.

He said that the graduation ceremony is postponed until further notice.

“We are committed to honoring our seniors for their accomplishments and graduation,” he said. “We have several different ideas and plans and will be finalizing those over the next few weeks.

“While it may not look or feel like our traditional graduation ceremony, we will certainly work hard to honor our seniors. We will share more information in the next several weeks about our plan as we continue to receive COVID updates from the governor each week.”

Strickland added that the prom has been postponed until late June.

“We are considering doing something for prom in the future, even if it is different than our traditional plan,” he said. “This will depend on how things progress in June and what restrictions are still in place at that time.”

 

Highland and Lone Tree

Ken Crawford, who serves as superintendent for both districts, has been meeting with administrators this week to discuss how the districts will proceed.

After the governor ordered schools closed through April, both Highland and Lone Tree districts chose to continue with optional online learning for all grade levels.

Crawford said that administrators, while making future plans, are looking at student engagement in the optional online learning.

They are also working out how to handle school activities.

“We have not come up with a specific plan yet for prom or graduation,” Crawford said. “Both districts are focusing more on graduation than prom.”

Administrators are working on plans for other year-end details like scheduling classes for next year, year-end ordering, checking in equipment and books and locker clean-out.

Regarding a potential early start to the 2020-21 school year, Crawford pointed out a potential snag.

“With teacher contracts being 180 days, how do we pay them for more teaching days if there is no money from the state for that specific purpose?” Crawford asked.

 

Hillcrest Academy

Hillcrest Academy was the first area school to implement mandatory online learning after the governor’s first school-closure order in March.

“We will continue with our continuous (online) learning that we began March 25,” Hillcrest Principal Dwight Gingerich said. “We will continue to tweak and improve as we move forward, now that we have the clear knowledge that we will not return to school in the normal sense.”

Hillcrest currently plans to postpone commencement activities.

“We are looking at options beyond the end of the school year, though we do not yet have a date set,” Gingerich said. “We will follow guidelines from the Iowa Department of Health.”

The Hillcrest board has not yet decided whether to start the 2020-21 school year early.

“We are looking at this and will make a final decision as soon as possible,” Gingerich said.

 

Pathway Christian School

The plan at Pathway is to continue mandatory online classes for the high school students.

“Pathway will continue to offer online courses, also some classes offer live chats between teachers and students,” Pathway Administrator Lawrence Schlabach said. “Canceled classes will be made up next school year. Teachers, parents and students are continuing to work together to complete this year’s education of the students.”

Schlabach said that some summer tutoring may be offered to students needing individual assistance.

Pathway is monitoring the situation before making any decisions regarding any school activities, including commencement.

“We will wait and try to reschedule several of our activities beyond the current school year calendar as community social gathering opportunities reopen,” Schlabach said. “Commencement exercises will be determined by the COVID-19 restrictions.”

Pathway’s 2020-21 school year is scheduled to begin on Aug. 19.

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