Coronavirus Update for March 20

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Ottumwa Schools Parents, Families, and Staff,
We want to take a moment to update you with more information regarding the four-week school closure issued by Governor Kim Reynolds.  Below are a few important highlights you need to know:

Check out the District’s Coronavirus Update Center on our website for frequent updates that pertain to our students and staff. www.ottumwaschools.com/updates

Facility Use and Access:  We will have the buildings accessible to staff that need to enter until Monday afternoon at 3:00 pm.  At that point in time, we will be shutting off key card access and closing access to all district buildings.  This is for everyone’s safety.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines:  The purpose of this closure is to provide social distancing.  Social distancing increases the space between people and reduces the chance of contagion and spread.  It is only effective if we all do our part. We STRONGLY recommend all of our students, staff, and families follow guidelines shared by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Use the link on the district’s website at www.ottumwaschools.com/updates. Do not gather in groups, stay home as much as possible, and reduce your direct interactions with others.  

Families Returning Home from Spring Break:  Please follow guidance from the CDC in regards to whether or not to self quarantine after traveling. 

Makeup Days: The Iowa Legislature voted on March 16 that instructional hours missed during the four-week school closure do not need to be made up. Governor Reynolds has the latitude to extend school closures beyond April 13th. 

Student Meals:  OCSD will provide meals during the closure in partnership with YMCA: Starting on Monday, March 23, the Ottumwa YMCA , in collaboration with the Ottumwa Schools, Bridge View Center and The Bridge Church will offer an Emergency Youth Food Program. The program has established 12 pick up locations in Ottumwa to allow families a grab and go option that will replace our school meals. We know many of our families rely on school meals and are grateful to the partnership with these organizations to assist us in meeting the needs of our families. There is a chart on the district’s website with locations and times. Families can pick up lunch and/or dinner/breakfast. Students MUST be present to receive a meal. The program will provide meals to those ages 2-18. 

If transportation is an issue, families can submit an application for home delivery using this link.  Staff interested in volunteering can submit their name to [email protected] A required training will be held on Saturday, March 21 at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The Zoom link will be sent from the YMCA. 

Teaching and Learning: Direction provided by the Department of education around teaching and learning has specified that districts cannot require online learning.  However, districts can provide families with resources to support learning at home. Look for more District information on Monday, March 23, 2020.  We are still waiting on confirmation on concurrent enrollment from the state. 

The Iowa Department of Education has been very clear in its guidance on three points: 1) schools may provide resources but not courses; 2) schools may provide supplemental content, but not new, required learning; and 3) students and families must be notified that all suggestions are optional, not required. The three points were emphasized to promote equity among all students, regardless of learning disability, economic status, or access to technology. 

Activities: No school activities or practices of any kind will be allowed through April 12.  At this time, school will resume on Monday, April 13. If the closure ends April 12, prom and post-prom activities will be held. People are going to need to be flexible and understanding as many decisions are made at the building and district levels. 

Communications: The district has added a direct link to our website, www.ottumwaschools.com/updates in order to house all communications and updates. Included on this website are direct links to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health and Wapello County Public Health. 

Building phone messages will be checked on a daily basis at the building level. Principals will field questions and concerns and respond on a daily basis.  District level phone calls will be fielded by district administrations and responded to promptly. 

We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.  We appreciate your time, understanding, and support during these unprecedented times.  The value of community is never more pronounced than times like these.  By all doing our part, we will overcome this challenge as we have overcome challenges that have come before.  We truly are all in this together.

Nicole Kooiker, Superintendent