March 20, 2020 Update

Student and Family Learning Opportunities Guidance

South Winneshiek educators have been eager to know what they can do to help our students and families during this national crisis.  As public educators we know we are accountable to our board policies, our own Code of Professional Standards and Ethics, Iowa Department of Education guidance, and state and federal law.  Over the past five days, I have participated in at least a dozen webinars trying to make sense of what we can and cannot do during this emergency closure.  

Earlier today, I shared the Guidance for Educators During the COVID-19 Closure document with our educators.  I want to share that information with you so you know what to expect form us in the coming days and weeks.  

Excerpt of Guidance shared with South Winneshiek Staff

In the wake of the extended closure due to COVID-19, the Iowa Department of Education has communicated directions and guidance to schools regarding district and teacher activities.  The intent of this guidance is to assist teachers in understanding appropriate teacher actions during the closure.  There are several key ideas that must be kept in mind to ensure districts and educators are working within the limits of this new guidance, applicable state and federal laws, Board of Educational Examiners Standards of Ethical Conduct, and board policy.  

  • Districts and accredited nonpublic schools may choose to use online learning options, but may not require student participation.  From now through April 10, 2020, South Winneshiek CSD is closed, and we are not providing services to students.  Therefore, no student or family can be required, nor should feel compelled to participate in any learning opportunity.
  • “A district is responsible for anything a teacher freelanced.”  Thomas Mayes, Iowa Department of Education Legal Counsel.  It is important for all educators to remember that they are an agent of the school district for which they work.  If a teacher violates copyright in an attempt to provide an opportunity to students and families during the closure, he/she is putting themselves and the district at risk.  Any actions taken to provide opportunities during this closure must align to district policy, appropriate curriculum, and best practice.  Anything standing in contrast to district expectations posted to the district website, or personal social media will result in a request for removal from administration.
  • The key term in sharing resources for students and families is opportunity.  Teachers and principals may provide opportunities to students and families.  Students and families are then free to take advantage of those opportunities if they choose.
  • Teachers and principals must avoid any direct or indirect messaging that would communicate the following.
    • That student attendance will be taken
    • That student work will be required and/or collected
    • That there is a deadline for completion
    • That credit toward a grade will be given
  • All communication sharing learning opportunities must include the following disclaimer. 
    • Disclaimer: These resources are being offered as an opportunity for students and families during this time of closure due to COVID-19.  There is no expectation that students and families use these resources. If you find that these resources are not accessible to your student please contact your teacher via email or phone for assistance or guidance to potential alternative resources.
  • Teachers of dual credit courses will continue to receive guidance in the future.  These courses would be the only potential exceptions to the above expectations.  As of now the concurrent enrollment courses are suspended until further notice. The PICC courses that were face to face will continue online and the PICC courses that were online will continue online.


***Keystone AEA has provided schools with educational opportunities and resources that we will place on our school website soon.  Mr. Halverson, Mrs. Nefzger, and myself are currently working on this.***