Return-to-Learn FAQs

Important Notice Regarding COVID-19

The 2020-21 school year’s instructional format will remain flexible to ensure student and staff safety. WDMCS may adjust processes and learning environments at any given point throughout the school year. Depending on community health conditions, a temporary transition to online learning could take place at a classroom, school, or district level.

We will update this section with additional feedback is received.

Additional FAQ Categories

General

Q: When will a decision be made districtwide for WDMCS students, parents, and staff to follow?
A: On Monday, July 13, the WDMCS Board of Education approved WDMCS administration’s return-to-learn plan and recommendation to start the school year in the Hybrid Option 2 learning environment. The July 13 decision allows for consistency and further planning across all buildings and grades. 

Under this plan, families will CHOOSE between online or on-site learning from Wednesday, Aug. 26, to Friday, Jan. 15 (the end of first semester.) Students who are on a trimester schedule will STILL FOLLOW the Jan. 15 date.

Families were sent a survey to complete for EACH student. We ask that each family makes a decision by July 31. Both plans have students attending class Monday through Friday, either on-site or at home.

Learn more

Please note: The 2020-21 school year’s instructional format will remain flexible to ensure student and staff safety. WDMCS may adjust processes and learning environments at any given point throughout the school year. Depending on community health conditions, a temporary transition to online learning could take place at a classroom, school, or district level.

Q: Can families switch back and forth between on-site and online learning?
A: Families can choose to switch to online if they start at on-site and change their mind until Friday, Sept. 4. Changes due to extenuating circumstances after Sept. 4 must be approved by the school, knowing changes may impact staffing and scheduling.

Families CANNOT switch from online to on-site during the semester because of our need to appropriately plan for staff and facilities.

If an on-site student tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to self-quarantine, they would manage their learning online for the specified period of time and then return to class on-site. The online learning could vary based on grade level. Read more about how instructional formats will remain flexible in the FAQs below.

Please Note: Because Tiger Cubs Preschool begins on Thursday, Sept. 3, preschool families will have until Friday, Sept. 11, to change switch from on-site to online. Preschool families still CANNOT switch from online to on-site.

Q: How will we catch up lost learning from the spring?
A: WDMCS plans to focus on grade-level standards and competencies. We will use those strategies,“ teaching just in time,” and scaffolding to support accelerated learning. We will also utilize resources provided by Heartland AEA and the Iowa Department of Education to close gaps and accelerate learning. There will be continuous assessments of students’ knowledge and progress.

Q: If community health conditions improve or worsen, how will things change?
A:The 2020-21 school year’s instructional format will remain flexible to ensure student and staff safety. WDMCS may adjust processes and learning environments at any given point throughout the school year. Depending on community health conditions, a temporary transition to online learning could take place at a classroom, school, or district level.

WDMCS will continue to follow guidance from both local and state authorities. If Governor Reynolds’ office or another agency recommends school closures, we would immediately transition to a fully-online learning environment.

Q: What triggers will you be using to determine if on-site needs to move to hybrid or to virtual or back to on-site?
A: WDMCS will follow guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Polk County Health Department to determine when we need to move between learning options. An example below illustrates the process WDMCS would follow:

WDMCS School District Decision Tree, which guides decision for moving between learning environments based on the local level of COVID-19.

Q: Will WDMCS have Back-to-School events like other years?
A: We understand the importance of students making a connection at their school prior to the beginning of the school year. School principals are making plans on how to best provide those opportunities at their building. Watch for more information from your school.

Q: What is the absence policy going to be like during the 2020-21 school year? What about snow days?
A: The Iowa Department of Education is requiring schools to keep attendance as if we were all on-site. We must track attendance and require students to participate no matter which option is selected. 

The Iowa Department of Education also provided guidance that schools are not allowed to use their online learning plans on days when extreme winter weather does not allow schools to attend on-site. We will adjust our plans in conjunction with guidance from the Polk County Health Department.  

Q: We may take an out-of-state vacation prior to school starting. Must children self-quarantine following travel? Thanks!
A: We ask everyone to follow CDC guidelines when traveling.  

Q: Will parents, visitors, and/or volunteers be allowed in buildings?
A: Our current guidance recommends that we limit the number of visitors into schools. If a visitor needs to be in a building, they would complete a self-assessment and/or other current processes similar to staff entering the building. We would limit visitors/volunteers to essential instances to reduce exposure as much as possible. We want people to be part of our school community, but we need to provide a safe environment for students and staff. 

Q: If we’re limiting people who can come into the buildings, will WDMCS Community Education programming continue with in person classes/facilities rental?
A: Yes, we will continue with Community Education programming and facility rentals. Those responsible will be asked to follow our guidelines for use.

Q. What are the plans to help support the social/emotional needs of our students?
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.
  • EFR offers SAP sessions by phone to students who have been seen on-site 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 

Return-to-Learn Resource List

West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) used many resources, including those linked below, to create our Return-to-Learn Plan for 2020-21. WDMCS Return-to-Learn Plan Submitted to the Iowa …