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Coronavirus Family FAQs

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To stay up-to-date with COVID-19-related updates from WDMCS, watch our “COVID-19/Coronavirus Information” web page and download the free WDMCS app on your phone(Google Play or App Store).

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Please click one of the links below to jump to set of FAQs on that topic.

Academic Impact FAQs

Q. What is WDMCS doing during the closure?

A. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. WDMCS administrators are collaborating with state education and health officials to make the best decisions for our students, families, and staff in the coming weeks. We are also working to communicate timely information to help ease stress and answer questions during this difficult time.

Q. The Iowa Department of Education gave school districts three options for how to handle the time away due to the coronavirus pandemic. Which option did WDMCS select?

A. Of the three plans, WDMCS selected Option 2, Voluntary Educational Enrichment Opportunities.

Under this plan, the IDOE allows school districts flexibility on how to affirm students are learning the necessary materials to successfully complete the grade level and/or course. This provides additional protection to students during this unprecedented time. Teachers can offer new content that has not yet been covered and provide feedback to students, but not associate a grade to specific coursework. Although this plan is voluntary, we highly encourage students to regularly complete practice to be prepared for the next course or grade level. This feedback loop will help teachers, students, and parents understand what materials students should practice and how to alleviate any learning gaps as they move to the next grade level for 2020-21.

Read more on what this looks like for elementary students

Read more on what this looks like for secondary students

Q. Will students have to make up the school days missed during the closure?

A. Students will NOT need to make up any of the days missed due to the closure.

Q. With the school closure extended through the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, will this change how you determine graduation requirements or state requirements for students to move to the next grade level?

A. WDMCS administrators will work closely with the Iowa Department of Education to determine how that would impact our students. We encourage you to be patient and trust that the decisions we make will be in the best interest of your student.

Q. What online/virtual learning options does WDMCS have available for students?

A. The Iowa Department of Education outlined three options for school districts, two addressing online/virtual learning options. WDMCS selected Voluntary Educational Enrichment Opportunities

Q. I want my children to have access to learning material so they don’t lose the momentum they’ve gained this year. What can I do?

A. Teachers are reaching out to students and families to provide continuous learning plans. Teachers can offer new content that has not yet been covered and provide feedback to students, but not associate a grade to specific coursework. Although this plan is voluntary, we highly encourage students to regularly complete practice to be prepared for the next course or grade level.

Read more on what this looks like for elementary students

Read more on what this looks like for secondary students

The West Des Moines Community Schools’ (WDMCS) teaching and learning team assembled a collection of resources for families during the coronavirus pandemic. Supporting student learning is a critical aspect of being a parent/guardian.

We understand you may find other educational resources online and through social media. We intentionally created a condensed list of tools you can use with your student that provide excellent opportunities to practice skills.

View academic resources

Q. Will students still be required to take the annual statewide assessment (ISASP)? (Updated March 20, 2020)

A. President Trump suspended standardized testing for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. 

Q. How will third trimester Pupil Progress Reports be impacted for elementary students?

A. The coronavirus pandemic is impacting all of us, and we know your student’s current school year is one of your concerns. As we consider the academic outcomes for our students, we are working diligently to provide the best at-home learning opportunities for students while limiting harmful impacts from this unprecedented situation.

As a result, we have new Pupil Progress Report (PPR) information to share for our elementary students. For this spring’s third trimester, PPR statements for all students in grades PK-5 will be left blank with comments added to provide feedback on work completed prior to school closure.  Sixth-grade student’s PPR statements will be marked with a Pass. Most importantly, all students will continue to the next grade level for the 2020-2021 school year. We believe this plan provides the best support and considerations unique to each personal circumstance.

What does this mean?

  • In the fall, teachers will assess each student’s learning through a variety of methods including informal observation, discussing with other staff supporting the student, screening assessments, and formal assessments. 
  • Teachers will also collaborate with the previous year’s teachers and reflect upon each student’s learning from the previous year to create an optimal instructional plan.  
  • WDMCS will provide time for our teacher teams to reflect on student data to ensure they are delivering instruction that meets the needs of every unique learner in the system. 
  • Teachers will work to ensure learning continues for all students.

We encourage your student to participate in the weekly voluntary continuous learning plans. These learning plans are intended to provide more detailed support as you engage in optional, continued learning at home. In selecting activities, consider what would be best for your schedule and students.

If you have questions, please contact your student’s teacher. Thank you for your dedication and support to your student’s learning during this difficult time.

Q. How will second semester grading be impacted for secondary students?

A. The coronavirus pandemic is impacting all of us, and we know your student’s current school year is one of your concerns. As we consider the academic outcomes for our students, we are working diligently to provide the best at-home learning opportunities for students while limiting harmful impacts from this unprecedented situation.

As a result, we have new grading information to share for our students in grades 7-12. For the spring semester, students will receive Pass or No Mark grades for each course unless they ask for a letter grade

  • What does Pass (P) versus No Mark (NM) mean?
    All students will receive a default grade of a Pass (P) or No Mark (NM). This grade will be based on content delivered from Jan. 14-March 12, the second-semester dates students attended school prior to school closure. Students with a course letter grade of D or better will receive a P. Students with an F letter grade will receive a NM. Students are encouraged to reassess and turn in other work assigned prior to spring break. These reassessments and work will be applied to the P/NM or grade equivalent. Letter grade calculations will resume if/when school reopens.
  • Can a student choose between the grading options (Pass/No Mark and letter grades) for each course individually?
    Yes. Students and parents should log in to Canvas to understand their current letter grade in the course, and then work with either their teacher or counselor to determine the best choice. As a reminder, students can still turn in work or complete any reassessments assigned prior to school closure. This could impact the course grade if the student elects for a letter grade instead of P/NM.
  • What if I do not know which option is best for me?
    Students should consider the pros and cons of their situation. Families may want to research the colleges, universities, or other postsecondary paths they want to take to learn about any requirements that may impact their choices. Another great resource is the student’s guidance counselor.
  • How do I request a letter grade instead of P/NM?
    Students should communicate this request to their classroom teacher(s) between Monday, April 20 and Thursday, May 28.
  • How does P/NM impact my GPA and graduation credits?
    Students earning a P will receive credit towards graduation, even for courses required to graduate. Students earning an NM will not receive credit toward graduation and will be required to repeat any courses required for graduation. P/NM has no impact on a student’s GPA calculation. View graduation requirements.
  • Will a P/NM impact admissions into colleges or universities?
    At this time, the vast majority of colleges and universities have indicated that student enrollment will not be negatively impacted by school districts moving to alternative grade reporting systems during this spring semester. Families should reach out to the universities/colleges they are considering to confirm their guidelines.
  • Will a P/NM impact my high school athletic eligibility?
    No. High school students must maintain 4.5 credits/semester during the 2020 spring semester to remain eligible.
  • Will a P/NM impact my college athletic eligibility?
    At this point, the NCAA Eligibility Center indicated grading changes made to support students during this time will be honored and will not adversely impact student eligibility. Students should contact the universities/colleges they are considering to confirm guidelines. For updates from the NCAA, please visit NCAA Coronavirus (COVID-19) and NCAA Q&A.
  • Can I select P/NM for my AP classes and still be eligible for honors and/or scholars designations?
    Yes. Honors and scholars students are still required to complete their exhibition/capstone experience. They are encouraged to communicate with their advisor/mentor to explore possibilities to fulfill these expectations.
  • Will P/NM impact meeting course prerequisites for the 2020-21 school year?
    No. As long as the student receives a Pass or minimum of a D, they have met the prerequisite requirement. Student participation in voluntary educational opportunities is highly encouraged to support student preparedness for future courses with prerequisites.
  • If I stick with P/NM, what will it look like on my transcript?Sample PassNoMark Transcript
  • Can I still withdraw from a class?
     Yes. The opportunity to withdraw from classes has been extended through May 1. Students should contact their guidance counselor to make this request.

Advanced Placement/DMACC FAQs

Q. How will Advanced Placement (AP) classes be impacted?

A. Updates and details are provided at AP Central. Traditional face-to-face exam administration will not take place this spring. Students will take a 45-minute online free-response exam. Additional testing details were made available April 3Learn more >

Q. How are AP Exams impacted?

A. Students enrolled in AP classes should have received an email the week of April 6 outlining the changes. Below is a summary of current guidance.

  • Students will not take AP exams in the traditional format at school this year. 
  • Students will be given two different testing dates and can take the exam from home.
    • The new AP exam schedule can be found by visiting this link.
    • Each exam will take approximately 45 minutes.
    • The exam format will be free-response questions.
    • Each exam will cover approximately 75% of course content. This looks different for each course based on the unit structure. Click here for course-specific exam information.
    • Colleges support this solution and will ensure that AP students can earn college credit based on passing exam scores and their specific college/university guidelines.
  • Students will be able to take the test on any device such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Students can get the free-response question from their device, hand write their essay answers, and upload a photo of their completed work.

Students may also decide to not take the exam. Any student previously registered for an AP exam who chooses not to take it can receive a full refund by completing the form linked below.

Complete refund request form 

What testing securities are in place for the AP Exams? Testing Security
Questions? Email  AP Coordinator Pam Wymer or Counselor Larry Mandernach

Q. What about Weighted Grades (Valley) and AP Exams?

A. Advanced Placement (AP) courses are weighted by 1.0 quality points if students complete the course and take the AP exam. If students choose to not take the AP exam, the course title in the transcript changes from  AP to Accelerated. However, because of these unprecedented circumstances, WDMCS will waive the requirement of taking the 2020 AP exam to receive the weighted grade for each current, completed AP course. In addition, transcripts will maintain the course title of AP if students choose to not take the AP exam.

Honors/Scholars Diploma (Valley) & AP Exams

School and community closures due to COVID-19 have led to altered Capstone projects for Valley Honors and Scholars candidates. WDMCS is working with these students in completing their Capstone projects. WDMCS will waive the requirement of taking the 2020 AP exam for each current AP course designated as part of the Honors/Scholars Diploma.

Q. What’s the best way to prepare for AP exams?

A. Advanced Placement (AP) testing looks different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please follow these important steps to ensure you are prepared to take AP exams.

Five Things to Do Before Your AP Exam

  1. Take advantage of practice tests.
  2. Check your exam schedule.
  3. Confirm your internet and Chromebook works.
  4. Collect student-specific information for CollegeBoard.
  5. Check in 30 minutes early before each exam.

Learn more >

Q. What about AP Awards?

A. Students are reminded that the Gold Cord Award does require a student to take a minimum of five AP exams during the course of their high school career. Students are also encouraged to check with potential college and scholarship requirements.

Starting with the May 2020 AP Exam Administration, the AP Program will no longer distribute State AP Scholar. Click here for more information about AP Scholar Awards.

Q. My student is taking a class for Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) credit. What now?

A. If you are a student taking a DMACC class provided by a WDMCS instructor, please follow any instructional guidance provided by WDMCS and the specific instructor for your classes. Updated guidance which was provided by the Iowa Department of Education (IDE) on Tuesday, March 24 has clarified that these courses are considered  community college courses, and instructors who teach them are considered community college faculty.

DMACC has transitioned all of their programming to an online format. Consequently,  WDMCS Concurrent Enrollment Courses (DMACC Courses) will do the same beginning Monday, March 30. On that day you should expect to receive communication from those instructors welcoming students to our online platform, Canvas.   WDMCS high school credit will still be awarded to students who complete the courses in good standing.

For all DMACC Spring 2020 term classes, students will have the option to accept an assigned letter grade OR to submit a request for pass/fail (P/F) grade.

This decision must be made between June 12, and June 19, 2020, by submitting the P/F request form. We will send a link to this form once it is available. If the form is not submitted, the letter grade will be recorded for the course.

Students may choose to drop their course by Thursday, April 30, 2020. Requests must be initiated through your high school counselor.

We want you to know that at this time only DMACC-enrolled courses come with the expectation of learning new content. This does not currently apply to other high school courses.

Q. What are the three credit options for a DMACC course?

A. The three credit options are outlined in the PDF below.

View three credit options

Q. If a student elects pass/fail for a DMACC course, will it impact the student’s GPA?

A. Please note that it was previously indicated that a student who elects to take the pass/fail and “fails” the course that it would affect the students GPA. This has been changed and students are now able to elect a pass/fail with no impact to the students GPA, even if they receive a“Fail”.

However, a student who elects to take a fail for the course, it will still impact a student’s course completion rate which could potentially impact the students’ academic standing and future financial aid eligibility regardless of the institution they attend. It is highly encouraged that any student who is deciding to elect a pass/fail to meet with their DMACC Career Advantage Academic Advisor as there are several factors that could contribute and impact a student’s decision to take the course as pass/fail through DMACC.

Activities/Events Impacted FAQs

Q: What types of activities are canceled outside of school?

A: WDMCS schools will be closed through Thursday, April 30. However, given the severity of this situation, several large group events and activities have been canceled through Saturday, May 9. This includes:

  • Prom (scheduled for April 18)
  • Any band, orchestra, or vocal concerts scheduled through May 9
  • Any drama performances scheduled through May 9
  • Any school spirit days, carnivals, and other parent group organized events scheduled through May 9.

We will keep an online list updated to reflect current information.

View events canceled due to coronavirus outbreak 

Q. Will Spring Athletics Be Canceled?

A. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Friday, April 17, that all Iowa High School Athletic Union (IHSAA) and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) spring sports and activities are canceled. Summer high school sports seasons are still being assessed by state officials the COVID-19 crisis develops.

View the latest information

Q: What about events and activities after May 9?

A: No decisions have been made yet for any events past May 9, like commencement. If there are any changes, WDMCS will notify students, families, and staff immediately.

Q. Will events that have already been canceled (including prom) be rescheduled?

A. At this time, no district-specific events have been rescheduled. If any decision are made to reschedule an event, students, staff, and families will be notified as soon as possible.

General COVID-19/Cleaning FAQs

Q: What can I do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

A: Families and community members can help by following these simple, easy steps that help prevent the spread of ALL contagious viruses, including COVID-19. Practice the same routine hygiene used to help prevent the cold and flu.

  • Regularly wash hands.
  • Stay home, especially when sick.
  • Cover your mouth with your upper arm or tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.

Q. Why are people still in WDMCS buildings?

A. It may be confusing to see vehicles parked outside of our WDMCS buildings. We can’t wait to see ALL of our WDMCS staff and students back in our buildings. In the meantime, we are practicing safe protocol to handle cleaning, constructions, and other important tasks.

Our Operations Department is using this time to deep clean the spaces that would otherwise not be completed until summer. Custodians are also cleaning areas where students or staff may have been to pick up Chromebooks or other items.

In addition to cleaning, planned construction projects are also continuing in several buildings. We also adjusted timing of some construction or repair projects to complete while students are out of the building.

Some key staff may be at the Learning Resource Center or other buildings periodically to handle mail, billing, payroll, and other time-sensitive projects. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ guidelines are followed in all of these situations.

Q: What is WDMCS doing to clean buildings?

  • Clorox 360 Spray System. The buildings are being cleaned with a disinfectant that covers all surfaces. 
  • Disinfected sections will be taped off to prevent individuals from entering cleaned areas. Some areas will be cleaned regularly if they are used by essential staff or contractors.
  • All activities and events have been canceled to prevent recontamination throughout buildings.

Misc. FAQs

Q. I received a notice that fourth-quarter bus fees were due Monday, March 23. What if I haven’t paid them yet? Will I get a refund if I have already paid?


A. 
If you have not yet paid fourth-quarter fees, please wait until we confirm a date when students will return to school. Although we anticipate an April 13 return, we prefer to wait until we know this date will not be changed upon recommendation from state or local authorities. If you have paid your fourth-quarter fees, we will determine what type of reimbursements may be necessary based on when students return to school. If you have specific questions, please email Director of Transportation Robin Pickard at pickardr@wdmcs.org.

Q. Can families get into schools to retrieve medicine, Chromebooks, instruments, etc.?

A. Families who may need to pick up their student’s medicine should call or email their building principal. They will coordinate a time for you to be able to stop by and pick up medicine or other essential items by Tuesday, March 24. If these dates or times do not work for your family, please email your building principal. A list of principals’ email addresses can be found online: www.wdmcs.org/directory

Q. Why isn’t WDMCS continuing to offer childcare while schools are closed?

A. Gov. Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency. This plan prohibits the gathering of more than 10 people. We are unable to provide childcare for our families under these guidelines. 

Resources FAQs (Nutrition, Social/Emotional, Other)

Q. What if my student’s Chromebook isn’t working?

A. f students have any problems with their Chromebook during the coronavirus/COVID-19 closure, please fill out the form below. If our technicians can repair the device remotely, we will contact you to coordinate details.

If the technicians determine the Chromebook cannot be repaired remotely, we will schedule a time for you to drop off your device to the Learning Resource Center and receive a replacement device.

Steps for Support

  1. Complete Form – https://discover.wdmcs.org/Chromebook-tech-request
    If you are unable to fill out this form, please call 515-633-5100.
  2. You will be contacted by a member of the Tech. Department within two business days.
  3. If we are unable to fix the Chromebook issue remotely, we will schedule a specific time for you to stop by the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Pkwy.
    You must be on time for your appointment, as we are limiting the number of people who can enter the building.
    Please bring your Chromebook and charger with you.
  4. Because of this process, you may not receive your original Chromebook back after repair. If you have any decals on your Chromebook that you want to keep, please remove them before turning in your device.

Q. I have a student currently in kindergarten, first, or second grade. How do they get Chromebooks?

A. In order to expand the types of continuous learning all student can work on at home, we knew our kindergarten through second-grade students would need a device to use. We have ordered devices, and families will receive specific directions from building principals on the dates, times, and directions for pick-up. Most families should plan to pick up Chromebooks at their school sometime the week of April 13-17.

Q. What resources can families access for nutrition?

A. Starting Monday, March 23, the WDMCS Nutrition Services Department will provide free “grab-and-go” meals for children at six WDMCS sites: 

  • Clive Learning Academy, 1600 73rd St., Windsor Heights, IA 50324
  • Crestview School of Inquiry, 8355 Franklin Ave., Clive, IA 50325
  • Hillside Elementary, 713 Eight St., West Des Moines, IA 50265
  • Indian Hills Junior High, 9401 Indian Hills Drive, Clive, IA 50325
  • Stilwell Junior High, 1601 Vine St., West Des Moines, IA 50265
  • Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Ave., West Des Moines, IA 50266

View hours and process for obtaining meals 

Q. How do I talk to my children about COVID-19?

A. Below are listed some resources from the American School Counselor Association website www.schoolcounselor.org to help you and your student understand COVID-19 and discuss it together.

Q. What social, emotional, and mental health resources do you have for my child and family during this stressful time?

A. WDMCS partners with Employee and Family Resources (EFR) to provide resources for students, families, and staff. Their Student Assistance Program (SAP) is taking the following measures in response to COVID-19:

  • 24/7/365 phone support available.
  • Zoom or phone assessment, referral and brief counseling sessions also available.
  • Effective March 23, 2020, EFR will be offering SAP sessions by phone to students who have been seen onsite at their school. To access services, please call 515-244-6090.

The SAP also provides support for stress, confusion, depression, family concerns, and much more. To talk to a counselor, please call 800-327-4692, or contact them online.

Access More Community Wellness Resources 

Q. What other resources are available for families impacted by this crisis?

A. We compiled a comprehensive list of information and resources that families and staff in our communities may find beneficial.

View city and community resources