1112 N. Van Buren, Ottumwa, IA 52501 |    Phone: 641-684-6597 |    Fax: 641-684-6522

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Urgent News

Update Center

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

Nicole Kooiker

Superintendent

April 3, 2020 

Dear Ottumwa Students, Staff, Families, and Community Members,
 
Yesterday Governor Kim Reynolds announced the extension of Iowa school closures statewide through April 30, 2020. Immediately after her press conference, Iowa superintendents and administrative staff participated in a virtual meeting led by the Director of the Iowa Department of Education. Click this link for more detailed information to ensure accurate interpretation of the guidance. (CLICK HERE)
 
The closure continues to affect all school programming, including before and after-school activities, all athletic and extracurricular practices and competitions, and all weekend events through April 30, 2020.  We are working to determine if we will need to reschedule activities and events such as prom and graduation.  
 
This closure represents an additional 14 days of lost face-to-face instructional time.  Like most school districts in Iowa, Ottumwa Schools has chosen to provide “Voluntary Educational Enrichment Opportunities for Continuous Learning”.  This allows our district to best address equity issues for our students while giving our staff/students time to become familiar with the challenges of online learning.  Again, the Ottumwa Community School District will continue to provide Voluntary Educational Enrichment Opportunities for Continuous Learning and will not be required to make up school days or hours. 
 
We plan to continue to work with the Ottumwa YMCA and other community partners to provide needed meals to our families. For parents with internet access at home, we encourage you to utilize Clever and the activities shared by our teachers to keep your students engaged. We will continue to expand the educational resources which are available on our website for parents and students to access. Teachers are collaborating to reach out to students on a weekly basis as well.

We are also utilizing this time to provide quality professional development and collaboration to our staff members. Teachers are meeting with their collaborative learning teams to discuss professional content, to provide optional instructional activities, and to prepare and plan for the future.  

We understand these are stressful times. All of our lives have been disrupted in a variety of ways. As we learn more about recent State decisions, we will continue to share updates with staff, students, parents, and community members.  We appreciate your patience, flexibility and partnership as we navigate during these challenging times. 

Sincerely,

Nicole Kooiker, Superintendent


 

April 2, 2020 - A Message from Superintendent Nicole Kooiker

March 30, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Community Members:

It has been a little over two weeks since Governor Kim Reynolds asked schools to close their doors because of the Coronavirus pandemic. As a district, we have continued to push information out to students, families, and staff to help keep you informed.  

Based on the most current information from Governor Kim Reynolds, classes will resume on Monday, April 13. This will be dependent on the recommendation from the Governor’s office, the Iowa Department of Education, and the Iowa Department of Public Health.  

Many families are taking advantage of lunch and dinner meals provided through our partnership with the Ottumwa YMCA, Bridge View Center, and other community partners. Please click on this website link for an updated list of distribution locations and times.  If you are in need of delivery, please contact Kayla at the YMCA: (641)684-6571 x13. Thank you to our community volunteers who are making this possible!

Please click on the district’s Coronavirus  FAQ page.There are many questions from the community, staff, parents, and students that we have answered in the past few weeks.  

Operation Parent
We realize that everyone handles situations like this differently. We may have students that feel stressed or anxious during this uncertain time. OperationParent.org provides a free webinar to help teens deal with the anxiety related to the Coronavirus Pandemic.  If you want your child to take advantage of this free service, click on this link to register here.

State Assessments
The administration of the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress will be waived for the 2019-2020 school year. Students will not have to take the exam this spring. 

Josten’s Update for Seniors
It is unfortunate for seniors and their families that you will miss a portion of your senior year.  We would like to acknowledge that your senior year experience has truly been unique, but we also know that despite the challenges of this year, you will rise above the challenges. Don’t let the current situation keep you from planning for your big day. Jostens will plan to be at OHS for senior orders once school is back in session.
 
Additional Resources for Parents 
The district has shared educational resources that students can access through the Clever educational portal, which can be found on the district’s website on the Coronavirus Update link, Important Links. Instructions for accessing your child’s district email and password is found in the March 23 parent update. Students are used to accessing resources through Clever. We do not expect parents to become teachers, but want to support our families. Here are some other resources: 

  1. Reading: The Iowa Reading Research Center (click this link) offers a daily book study for students in grades 7 - 12 and weekly writing prompts through Facebook for students in grades K - 8. Visit the following links:
    • Book Study for Teens:  https://iowareadingresearch.org/blog/supporting-home-learning-book-study-teens
    • K-8 Writing Prompts: https://iowareadingresearch.org/blog/supporting-home-learning-writing-prompts-children.
  2. K-8 Mathematics: Student access to ST Math has been expanded to all K-8 students. ST Math (use this link) is a visual instructional program that leverages the brain's innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability to solve mathematical problems. The self-paced, mastery-based program gives personalized learning for each student, while the visual models engage students in actively building strategies and conceptual understanding.
  3. K-8 STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math activities can be found here: https://www.pinterest.com/IowaSTEM/stem-fun-for-k-8/ and iowastem.gov/teachablemoment.  
  4. Special Education: Click on this FAQs for Iowa Families and Parents of Students with Disabilities.

March 26, 2020

OHS Students and Families,

We know that this is an uncertain time for all of you, especially for those of you that are seniors and looking forward to graduation.  We want you to know that we are remaining diligent to ensure your care and safety while remaining on top of the latest updates and news coming from our state and national decision-makers.  We recognize that many of you have questions about what school looks like moving forward and how this impacts you.

Here is what we know right now: 

As of today, school will resume on Monday, April 13. This date could change based on recommendations from the Governor and the Iowa Department of Education. The days missed during the Coronavirus outbreak will not have to be made up.  This brings into question many items that many of you may be asking.  

Will prom still happen?
Based on the information that we have today, yes, prom will still be held on May 2nd.  If we receive information that schools are closed beyond April 13, we will reassess that decision.  

How can I request transcripts for college?
You can still request transcripts using the following email or U.S. mail. Someone will check multiple times a week to process these for you.
Email:  You can email your request to [email protected]  

U.S. Mail: Attn: Registrar, Ottumwa High School, 501 East Second Street, Ottumwa IA. 52501.

Be sure to include the following information:

  • Name when attending school (maiden name if applicable)
  • Current mailing address and phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Year of graduation or year dropped
  • Number of copies needed
  • Complete mailing address of where to send the transcript
  • Copy of photo ID must be attached to an email request or it will not be processed
  • Be sure to sign and date your letter of request if using mail. 

What school work am I responsible for doing?
Your teachers have been directed by the state to offer suggestions and optional learning guidance for you.  However, your responsibility to continue learning is very critical during the closure. As a high school student, you know where you are in your classes; search CK-12 or Khan Academy through Clever and keep it going on your own.  Remember, teachers are available for any questions or concerns you have. If you are in concurrent enrollment classes, you are expected to complete the course and participate in learning as your teacher directs you to. 

Will I still be able to graduate? Will there be a graduation ceremony? 
The State of Iowa has directed public schools to determine graduation expectations locally. More information will be coming on high school credit issuance. Right now, we are working from the viewpoint that we are coming back on April 13th.  If this changes, we will update graduation expectations. If we are allowed to come back to school and gather in large groups, OHS will hold a graduation ceremony as currently scheduled.

How can I get student meals?

Ottumwa Schools, in partnership with the Ottumwa YMCA, Bridge View Center, The Bridge Church, and other community partners is offering grab and go meals at lunch and dinner. Please see the district’s website for locations and times. 

Who can I reach out to for support?

If you are in need of social/emotional support, please contact your school guidance counselor via email. 

How can I get items from school?

Schools are now closed until April 13. 

Will this last longer than April 13th? What does that mean for us? 
Please do not jump to the worst conclusions.  Schools are working closely with the state and all of their guidance encourages schools to use good judgment and leniency when determining credit.  Take it upon yourself to continue learning.  Go to the district web page and find the online resources. Read.  Write.  Keep that brain sharp!

Do I have to finish my concurrent enrollment classes? 
We sincerely hope you continue your college pursuits.  When you enrolled in your concurrent enrollment class(es), you started your college transcript and are therefore required to follow the direction of Indian Hills Community College.  IHCC has either waived or extended their midterm grades and is in discussion about drop procedures currently. There is still a high likelihood that failing to complete your course will result in an “F” on your college transcript.  Your HS teachers and IHCC teachers have worked hard to learn a new system.  Please give it a shot and don’t give up. 

What about my AP classes? 
AP classes are required to follow guidance of all PK-12 classes.  No direct instruction; teachers are to offer support and suggestions. The College Board has modified the AP exams; content modifications can be found on the AP website by test. Spring 2020 tests will be offered online so students can test at home if necessary. Go to: https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/about-ap/news-changes/coronavirus-update to read more. College Board, the originator of Advance Placement, posted this information: 

Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, students and teachers can attend free, live AP review courses, delivered by AP teachers from across the country.  These mobile-friendly classes are:

  • Designed to be used alongside work that may be given by schools.
  • Will be recorded and available on-demand so teachers and students can access them any time.
  • Not dependent on current AP teachers continuing instruction. We know many AP teachers now face challenges that would make that impossible.
  • Will focus on reviewing the skills and concepts from the first 75% of the course. There will also be some supplementary lessons including topics from the final 25% of the course.

March 25, 2020

Dear Ottumwa Parents/Guardians,

We know many of our families do not have internet access at home. We recently were made aware of several resources that could potentially assist our families. See the list and links below.

A reminder to our students and parents that all school work is optional at this time. We encourage your student to read at least 20 minutes daily and hope they will take advantage of the resources available on Clever. This information was shared in the previous letter you received from the district. The information can also be found under “Frequently Asked Questions” on our Coronavirus Update Center. You’ll find this lnk under “Important Links.”

At this time we hope to have students back in class on April 13. Until then, please continue to stay at home as much as possible and practice social distancing when you must go out in public. While our playgrounds are open, please remember that these surfaces have not been sanitized.

Thanks again for your patience and cooperation as we navigate through these challenging times.  We appreciate your partnership and support.  

  • AT&T COVID-19 link: offers open hot-spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low income families
  • Verizon COVID-19 link: no special offers, but following the FCC agreement.
  • Sprint COVID-19 link: follows FCC agreement, provides unlimited data to existing customers, and, starting Tuesday, 3/17/2020, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge (I expect others will follow).
  • T-Mobile COVID-19 link: follows FCC agreement, plus unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge (I expect others will follow).
  • Mediacom Connect 2 Compete for qualifying families, only $9.95 per month with no contracts or deposits. 

March 23, 2020

Dear Parents,

During this time away from school, our primary concern is the safety and well being of your child/children.  We are aware that extended down time will be challenging.  Although we cannot provide direct instruction, we can suggest educational resources. We hope that they provide students and families with some  stability. It is our goal to limit learning loss during the closure as much as possible. 

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. 

Ottumwa students access their digital resources through the online Clever portal. For example, kindergarten students access Imagine Learning regularly.  High school math students access Desmos regularly, and middle school math students access IXL. By using Clever, students will know how to access these resources. We have added a few additional resources to encompass most content areas.

Clever Instructions: Early elementary students use QR Code Badges to access Clever at school, so a password is needed for work at home. Follow the directions below to access your child’s password. Once you access Clever, check under district resources. In Clever, click on the “?” to read about what each app provides for learning to help guide your student. There is also an inventory of apps attached to this communication. 

Upper elementary and secondary students enter Clever using their school email address, so parents will not need to access their Clever passwords. All apps are linked in the table below, as well as online so you can review what is available for your student by grade level and by content area. 

Clever Access: Parent Instructions 

For general account issues and troubleshooting please submit a support ticket at the following URL, https://esupport.ottumwaschools.com/.
Please continue to check the district website along with your email for updates as they become available and thank you for your patience and understanding during these difficult times. Our goal is to follow state level guidance and serve families to the best of our ability. 

March 20, 2020

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.  

March 18, 2020

Message shared at the special school board meeting:

It goes without saying that this has been a time of uncertainty for our state, our community and for our school district.  I just want to thank all of you for your patience as our district office team along with a number of community partners, have worked to come up with answers and a plan for moving forward.

I don't know how many times we've heard the word "fluid" in the past few days, but that word certainly describes our situation.  After sitting through multiple virtual meetings with the Department of Education and local AEA superintendents, there are some things we simply do not have answers for at this time, but we will!

As we get answers we will continue working together for the good of our students, our families and our community.  We are beyond blessed to have the staff and community support we have in place.  We are all in this together and we will get through this together!

 Nicole Kooiker, Superintendent

March 17, 2020

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:

  • Facility Use and Access:  Families and staff may access Evans Middle School and Ottumwa High School from 4-6 PM Wednesday, March 18, and from 8-10 AM on Thursday, March 19 to pick up any items that may be needed during the next four weeks (i.e. student-issued laptops at OHS, band instruments, personal items, etc.). Preschool and elementary staff may also access their buildings at this time. After Friday, the entire district will be closed to everyone until further notice except for essential personnel at the discretion of the Superintendent.
  • Student Medication:  District nurses are working with families to return medications stored at school.  Prioritization starts with higher needs, insulin for example, but at all buildings the nurses will coordinate with families to return medications as soon as possible this week.  
  •  Following 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.  
  • 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. 
  • OCSD will provide meals during the closure in partnership with YMCA:  Any district student 18 years and under are welcome to pick up “grab and go” meals at various locations Monday-Friday. Watch for additional information later this week. This service will start on March 23.
  • Teaching and Learning:  PK-12 learning, including special education services, will be suspended until further notice. College courses will continue, with more details to be released soon. We have set up an educational resources link on the district website at www.ottumwaschools.com/updates. Students may continue to use their school-issued devices. Parents, please do not contact your child(ren)’s teacher(s) to request lesson plans, resources, etc. 
  • 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. 
  • Guidance from the from the Iowa Department of Education: Click here to view. 
  • Questions: Contact the District Office (641-684-6597) or by email to Supt. Nicole Kooiker at [email protected]

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

March 16, 2020

Questions Regarding Coronavirus 

In light of the fast-moving decisions being made, we want to take a moment to update you about how Ottumwa Schools is responding to the coronavirus. Governor Kim Reynolds communicated on Sunday evening that all public schools will be closed for the next four weeks, through Friday, April 10. This decision has prompted many questions: 

  • Will we make up these missed days?
  • Will employees still be expected to go to work? 
  • Will we provide meals for families? 

Right now we are waiting for guidance from the governor’s office and working in collaboration with other districts and communities on plans that will provide us with more answers. Fortunately, we are on Spring Break this week which means we have additional time to make the best decisions for our students, families, and staff members. We will continue to update you as information becomes available to us. Thank you for your patience as we work through this unprecedented situation.

March 15, 2020

Message to Families:  School Closing

As a school district, we have been closely monitoring the news and best practices regarding the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). At the direction of Governor Kim Reynolds, tomorrow she will be recommending schools in Iowa must close for four weeks. This closure will take effect on March 16.  All extra-curricular activities will be canceled for the next four weeks. 

The closure affects all school programming, including before- and after-school activities, all athletic and extracurricular practices and competitions, and all weekend events. 

We are actively preparing to continue with school lunch services on March 23. More details on school lunch will be provided in the coming days. 

The coronavirus is thought to be spread via person-to-person contact through contaminated air droplets from coughing and sneezing by an infected person. As with controlling the spread of other viruses, we urge you to speak to your child about the following prevention measures:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the restroom and before preparing or consuming food. Using soap and hot water, wash for about 20 seconds. Be sure to also wash your fingertips.
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air. Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into your arm.
  • As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the regular seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and coughing. Some people with coronavirus have reported additional symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some situations, the virus can develop into pneumonia. 

Individuals who need medical care should call their medical providers to report their illness prior to seeking care at a clinic, physician’s office, or hospital.

Parents of students exhibiting flu-like symptoms or staff exhibiting flu-like symptoms are asked to contact Wapello County Health Department.

Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with all of you. I know the days ahead will be challenging for you and your family. We will do our absolute best to rise to the occasion and try to assist you in finding solutions going forward. May we all lean on each other in the days ahead. 

March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Update

Ottumwa Community School District continues to monitor the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) developments throughout our country and specifically here in Iowa.  At the time of writing this communication, we have 14 cases here in Iowa.  In order to follow and monitor the situation, use the links below from the Iowa Department of Public Health and CDC: 

The district continues to follow the guidance of local, state, and federal health officials concerning coronavirus (COVID-19) and communicate with Wapello County Public Health as well as Wapello County Emergency Management.

SPRING BREAK TRAVEL
As we head into spring break, we encourage families to reach out to local public health departments and the CDC for the most up-to-date travel information available. We will continue to monitor the situation and work with our critical partners as we move forward.

Whether you travel or not during spring break, if a student or staff member is sick following the break, please do not come to school.
The district is asking staff and families to report to their building nurse if they have traveled, or plan to travel to any of the countries with travel advisories so we can make sure you have information needed from IDPH and CDC.  Any families, students, or staff members that may be affected or have concerns should call their primary healthcare provider. They may also contact Wapello County Public Health with questions or concerns.

As a district, we are following CDC guidelines and recommendations.  We are not recommending anyone to self-quarantine themselves.  If you receive direction from Wapello County Public Health, you will be required to provide proof of isolation/quarantine order.  We are also following the district sick leave policies and procedures.  If you are ill, you are able to use your available sick leave following district protocols and procedures if you are a student or a staff member.  

CRUISE SHIP TRAVEL
Current information from the CDC recommends that U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.  CDC notes increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.  

This is a fluid situation.  Passengers with plans to travel by cruise ship should contact their cruise line companies directly for further information and continue to monitor the Travel.state.gov website and see the latest information from the CDC link: Cruise Ship Travel 

If you have questions that are not answered via the links in this document, please call 211 or visit 211.org,

We will keep you posted in the coming days and weeks as information regarding this virus evolves. Our staff continues to remind students about the importance of washing their hands and covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze. I want to thank our custodial crew and Durham School Services for the extra efforts to clean our buildings and school buses. Also, thanks to all of you for discussing the importance of hand-washing with your children.