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Waiver Approved to Transition WDMCS Online Starting Nov. 16

UPDATE (10:45 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 12): The Iowa Department of Education approved the waiver to transition ALL PK-12 students to an online learning environment starting Monday, Nov. 16. Western Hills Elementary and Valley High School are already online.

Students will remain online through Wednesday, Dec. 2.

View “We Are ALL WDMCS” newsletter for more information

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ORIGINAL POST (Tuesday, Nov. 10): WDMCS is applying for a waiver to the Iowa Department of Education (IDOE) to transition ALL PK-12 students to an online learning environment.

Why do we need to move online?
WDMCS considers several factors to make our decision, including how COVID-19 is impacting both our community and district. Here’s what we know:

  1. The Polk County COVID-19 positivity percentage is above 10% (currently above 17%).
  2. Student absences are nearing or above 10%. Valley absences are above 10%, and several other schools are seeing a rise in student absences due to illness.
  3. Staff absences. We continue to have an increase in the percentage of staff absences due to illness.  

Download/view full COVID-19 Board Presentation

When would students move to online learning?
Monday, Nov. 16-Wednesday, Dec. 2 (10 total school days).

What does this mean for Valley High School?
Valley High School is in an online learning environment this week (Nov. 9-13). They would continue to learn online through Wednesday, Dec. 3.

What if I have been told to quarantine past Dec. 3?
Students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been confirmed as close contacts must follow the guidelines already communicated to them. 

What if the waiver is denied?
If the IDOE does not approve the waiver, WDMCS will look at student and staff absences at each building and re-apply to the IDOE for individual school waivers. We would automatically apply for a Valley waiver and consider which other schools should be included in the request.

How will I know if my building is one of those individual schools?
We will email ALL families and staff the response from the IDOE to explain whether or not our districtwide waiver was approved. If we need to re-apply for specific schools, we will email those families and staff.

When will we know if we are going online Monday?
We hope to hear by Thursday or Friday this week. Once we hear if the districtwide waiver is approved, we will communicate with all staff and families.

Is child care an option for my student?
Kids West child care is contacting current Kids West families to determine how many would need full-day child care. They will then determine if there are any additional openings.

How would students learn online if at Kids West?
Kids West staff would help students connect to their online classes and monitor independent learning. They will be provided resources to help them troubleshoot any technical problems.

How will the school day be different for students?
If you are an online student, you will continue your daily schedule for instruction with your teachers. Students who have been learning at school will now transition to online classes with the same teachers who have been teaching them each day.

Will Teachers Teach from Home or at School?
On-site teachers can choose to teach from school or provide online instruction at home. Teachers should communicate with students and families to share more information about class work and assignments. 

What about school activities or athletics?
If the waiver is approved, all school-related activities, including athletics, are canceled.

What about meals for students?
If all students transition to online learning, our Nutrition Department would pre-package two breakfasts and two lunches that could be picked up three times a week. Three schools will be designated pick-up locations. More detailed information will be sent to families later this week.

These meals are free of charge and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture through the summer meals program extension.

What about facility rentals?
If the waiver is approved, facilities will be closed to rentals (both buildings and outdoor spaces).

We hope to hear from the IDOE by Thursday or Friday this week about the districtwide waiver. Once we know if the districtwide waiver is approved, we will communicate with all staff and families by email, app, and text, as well as our district website and social media. You can also receive daily COVID-19 updates through our district dashboard.