Continuation of Hybrid Schedules

I want to first thank everyone for their support and help with our mitigation strategies during the pandemic.  These are truly uncharted waters that we’ve been navigating through for the last six and half months.  These circumstances have pushed everyone out of their comfort zones and forced us all to be ultra-flexible.
We understand this is difficult for some families and students, and I want to stress that we are doing this to protect our top priority–keeping students in school in a safe and responsible manner.  We are in a pandemic, and even though the Iowa Department of Public Health has provided new guidance with wearing masks, we still strive to maintain the six foot physical distance recommendation to help bolster our mitigation strategies.  We are also taking into consideration that we will be entering the flu season and are not sure how that will affect our students’ and teachers’ health.  We will continue to monitor what is best for our students and teachers with the goal to keep school moving forward so we can continue education and extracurricular activities without disruption.
With that said, after careful consideration and input from the Return to Learn Team, the District Leadership Team, and the Administrative Team, I made the recommendation to the school board on Monday, October 5 to continue our current hybrid schedules at each building through the first semester, which ends on Friday, December 18.  We will continue to reevaluate our status between now and then.  We will make a decision as to how we will proceed for the second semester before the end of the first semester.  We will then communicate our plans to students and parents before break.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding your student’s safety or education please contact either the elementary/middle school at (563) 532-9365 or the high school at (563) 562-3226.
Below are reasons why we feel it is necessary to continue down the path we are on with our hybrid schedules.
ELMS Hybrid Schedule
#1. We have three different types of learners at the ELMS.
       a. Face to Face Learners
       b. Full-Time Online Learners
       c. Remote Learners due to Isolation/Quarantine
This means teachers have to prepare for and teach three different types of learners, which takes time and is why Fridays are necessary.  Students receive instruction virtually and are doing this “asynchronously,” which means students receive instruction on their own time and not during the time the face to face students are in school.
#2. We need to utilize our Learning Management System (LMS) – SeeSaw in grades PK-4 & Schoology in grades 5-8.  If we need to close due to the virus, we want the transition to be as seamless as possible.  In order for this to happen, we must be using our LMS on a regular basis so students and parents are comfortable using them.
#3. The staff needs collaboration time.  Classroom teachers need time to meet and collaborate with ELL teachers, Title teachers, TAG teachers, Special Education teachers, and Special teachers (Music, Art, P.E., etc.)  Due to the fact that students cannot be outside before school and need to go directly to their classroom because of our mitigation plans, teachers contractually, arrive at school at 7:30 and are free to leave at 3:30.  This leaves very little time to no time at all for teachers to collaborate.  Fridays allow teachers to contact and provide additional support to online or temporarily isolated/quarantined students as well as time to prepare materials for our newly-digitized systems.
High School Hybrid Schedule
#1. We have three different types of learners at the HS as well.
       a. Face to Face Learners
       b. Full-Time Online Learners
       c. Remote Learners due to Isolation/Quarantine
The difference at the high school is the high school is using “synchronous learning,” which means instruction by students attending virtually is real time or the same time as the face to face learners.
#2 We cannot utilize the same mitigation strategies the ELMS are using because we are a high school.  We cannot use self-contained classrooms or pods; we cannot split the building into cohorts. However, we are able to physically distance with only half the students in the building.
#3. Just like the ELMS, the HS needs to utilize the Learning Management System (LMS) – Schoology in grades 9-12.  If we need to close due to the virus, we want the transition to be as seamless as possible, and in order for this to happen, we must be using our LMS on a regular basis so students and parents are comfortable using it.
South Winneshiek Community School District will continue to work closely with Winneshiek County Public Health to conduct contact tracing in alignment with Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Education guidance.  We have appreciated the collaborative approach taken by a majority of our staff, students, and families.  This collaborative approach promotes the continued health and safety of our students, families, and staff, and our ability to provide on-site learning and extracurricular activities.
On another note we will be switching the Monday, November 30 staff professional development day to Friday, December 4 to accommodate our hybrid schedule.
Also the Free Meals sign up form is below and this is for the period of October 19-December 18.  The form needs to be completed by Wednesday, October 14 at noon.
Again, I want to thank everyone for their continued support and understanding.  South Winneshiek Schools are doing our best to meet the needs of all while trying to keep everyone safe as possible.
Thank you,
Kris Einck, Superintendent