The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Transportation Department strives to serve the needs of all students and to provide safe, efficient transportation to and from school and school-related activities.
Alongside the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), WDMCS is proud to observe National School Bus Safety Week this year from Oct. 19-23.
“National School Bus Safety Week is an active and evolving public education program and an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties to join forces and address the importance of school bus safety,” NAPT says.
This year’s theme for National School Bus Safety Week is “Red Lights Mean STOP!” The themes for National School Bus Safety Week are derived from poster contests held the year prior.
Watch: WDMCS Transportation’s ‘Follow the Rules’ Music Video
Currently at WDMCS, there are 46 school bus drivers transporting about 2,200 students daily, said Robin Pickard, WDMCS Transportation Department director. Last school year, WDMCS school buses traveled 430,224 miles.
WDMCS Transportation Director Robin Pickard said the look of busing across the district has changed in order to ensure the health and safety of drivers and passengers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We require extra safeguards such as masks, assigned seating, and frequent sanitizing in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19,” Pickard said.
Pickard added how proud she is of “our committed employees who returned to school without hesitation this year.”
“I am amazed at how well it’s going, not only with our staff but also with our students,” she explained. “I think all of us feel lucky to be in school and from my perspective, everyone is working very hard to stay in school by doing their part to minimize the spread of the virus. I’m so proud of our school community and the efforts made by all to make this happen.
“Our WDMCS Transportation Department staff is excited to be back, and we look forward to a successful and healthy school year.”
Be sure to thank your WDMCS school bus driver, and practice safe bus riding during National School Bus Safety Week and every week!
School bus safety is a shared responsibility among parents, students, and the bus driver.
- October 16, 2020
WDMCS is taking a different approach to “snow days” in 2020-21. If school cannot be held on-site due to inclement weather, we will transition for that day to online learning for ALL students.
Using this approach, developed as a COVID-19 precaution during return-to-learn planning, will prevent the district from having to add make-up days at the end of the year.
WILL SCHOOL START AT NORMAL TIME ON “SNOW DAYS”?
School will start at normal time for all students unless otherwise communicated.
WILL THIS IMPACT STUDENTS WHO ARE ALREADY LEARNING ONLINE?
This should not disrupt elementary students’ routines other than students will not have a scheduled time for related-arts classes. However, secondary students may have a shift in their schedule because they remote into their on-site classes. Students should log into the Student Canvas portal to review any directions their teachers provided.
HOW WILL WE FIND OUT ABOUT THE CHANGE?
As we have in previous years, the district will send out mass notifications to all WDMCS employees and families. This includes a voicemail, email, text, and WDMCS app notification. We also post changes to schedules on the WDMCS website and social media.
If you did not update your contact information when going through our annual enrollment process this summer, please log into Infinite Campus and make sure we have your current email and phone numbers.
WHAT IF MY STUDENT DOESN’T HAVE THEIR MATERIALS AT HOME?
Because we may not have much advance notice of bad weather, we encourage students to bring home their Chromebooks and other materials EVERY DAY. If the student does not have their materials on that day, the teacher will work with the student when classes resume at school to make up any missed work.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ON-SITE STUDENTS and TEACHERS?
Elementary students will follow a virtual schedule with some whole class virtual meetings and built-in breaks. Students will not have a scheduled time for related-arts classes.
Secondary students will follow the virtual block schedule. They can find this schedule on the WDMCS website. Students will log into Canvas to understand what tasks or learning will take place for each class. Walnut Creek students follow a seven-period day. They will also log into the Student Canvas portal for course-specific instructions.
Teachers have the option of working from their regular workspace in their building or from home. If they choose to work from home, they will need to make sure they have adequate materials and internet access.
WHAT ABOUT LATE STARTS OR EARLY DISMISSALS?
There will not be any changes to our processes from previous years if we need to start late or dismiss early due to weather or other emergencies.
We will continue to update families in the coming weeks.
- October 13, 2020
Online learners will soon begin taking more assessments online. This could include universal screeners given three times a year, progress monitoring data collection, unit exams, and other assessments. Some of these assessments support West Des Moines Community Schools’ ability to adjust your students’ instruction to best meet their needs.
To honor the integrity of these assessments, WDMCS needs your support to ensure the results are reflecting your students’ best efforts. Students must do their own work when they are taking assessments online. Parent/guardians and other caring adults should not help their students with any assessments.
Remember: It is important for teachers to see what students are able to do on their own so they can provide the best instruction. It can be hard as a parent or guardian to watch your student struggle. But this struggle is important when they are learning.
Learn about other ways you can support your students’ learning in the video above!
- October 13, 2020
West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) is hosting an open forum session for parents of students of color on Tuesday, Oct. 27. The open forum will be an opportunity for parent/guardians to share their experiences and engage with district administrators in a safe space. The meeting will be held virtually on Zoom and led by WDMCS Executive Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Anthony Ferguson, Jr., Ed.D.
Save the Date
Open Forum for Parents of WDMCS Students of Color
- Oct. 27
- 6:30-7:30 p.m.
From WDMCS Six Actions for Equity
The open forum session supports the six actions for equity the WDMCS Board of Education and administration committed to on June 22. Action 1 reads:
“Schedule anti-racist listening sessions in person, online, and anonymous feedback for students, families, and staff.”
- October 12, 2020
Thanks to the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Nutrition Services Department, all WDMCS students get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow while at school.
Please join WDMCS and the School Nutrition Association (SNA) as we celebrate National School Lunch week from Oct. 12-16 this year.
“President John F. Kennedy created National School Lunch Week (NSLW) in 1962 to promote the importance of a healthy school lunch in a child’s life and the impact it has inside and outside of the classroom,” SNA shares on its website. “The COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt shown just how incredibly important school meals are for students and their families.”
This is certainly true for WDMCS, where just 74 Nutrition employees (plus some amazing volunteers):
- Served 147,530 meals at our summer drive-thrus,
- Delivered 79,736 meals to students at home this summer, and
- Are providing meals for on-site learners and 243 online learners each week.
Thanks to a nationwide waiver, school lunch and breakfast are free for WDMCS families this school year. The USDA-funded program brings additional funds into the school district to support staff wages and benefits, purchase equipment for Nutrition Services, and provide nutritious foods to serve to our students. Participation in this program helps your school and the local economy.
To thank students for their participation in the school lunch program, Nutrition will be providing a special ice cream treat with lunches on Oct. 16. Nutrition will also track school meal participation and serve up a pizza party for the school with the best participation Oct. 12-16!
Make sure you eat with us this week—and thank your Nutrition Services workers during National School Lunch Week!
- October 12, 2020
Did you know: You can borrow books, ebooks, audiobooks, STEM kits, and so much more from the West Des Moines Public Library? To make it even easier to access these resources, the WDMCS teacher librarian team is excited to announce a collaboration that will connect ALL PK-12 WDMCS students* with a West Des Moines Public Library card!
To get a library card, any WDMCS student in grades PK-12 can sign up through an online form. The first sign-up window will be Oct. 5-16. Watch for an online sign-up form from your classroom teacher or Language Arts teacher!
WDMCS will share the information securely with the West Des Moines Public Library. Then, public librarians will create the library cards for all students who sign up. Watch for more pick-up information from your home school’s teacher librarian in early November!
*Library cards are available to students only, but students do not have to be West Des Moines residents to sign up.
- October 2, 2020
October is National Principals Month, and the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) is proud to celebrate our amazing school leaders alongside the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Please join us in saying “thank you” to our wonderful WDMCS principals and assistant principals, who go to extraordinary lengths to ensure students, families, teachers, and staff members are valued and supported every day.
Want To Write A Thank You Note?
Send your school building principal(s) a personalized thank you note using our online tool!
Hats off to all WDMCS principals! Thank you for all you do to serve students, staff and families. #NationalPrincipalsMonth
— Lisa Remy (@RemyLisa) October 2, 2020
- October 1, 2020
Our WDMCS teacher librarians have been working hard to find ways to keep our online learners connected with their school library and all its resources. Thanks to their efforts, WDMCS elementary online learners can request and check out books from their home schools starting Oct. 2!
To request books online, please use the following links by grade:
- Grades PK-2: PK-2 Online Learners Book Request Form
- Grades 3-6: Destiny Discover Book Request Tutorial
Online learners will pick up books every other Friday, based on last name. Last names A-K will pick up one week, then L-Z will pick up the next. To be ready for pick-up, books must be requested by Wednesday of your pick-up week.
If you have any questions, please contact your home school’s teacher librarian. We are so excited to keep reading and learning with all WDMCS students!
Book Pick-Up Dates and Times
Please pick up your books between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. This will avoid school drop-off and dismissal times.
- First A-K Book Pick-Up: Oct. 9, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Request books by Oct. 7.
- First L-Z Book Pick-Up: Oct. 16, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Request books by Oct. 14.
|Last Names A-K|
|Request books by:||Pick up books on:|
|Oct. 7||Oct. 9|
|Oct. 21||Oct. 23|
|Nov. 4||Nov. 6|
|Nov. 18||Nov. 20|
|Dec. 9||Dec. 11|
|Jan. 6||Jan. 8|
|Last Names L-Z|
|Request books by:||Pick up books on:|
|Oct. 14||Oct. 16|
|Oct. 27 (Tuesday)||Oct. 29 (Thursday)|
|Nov. 10 (Tuesday)||Nov. 12 (Thursday)|
|Dec. 2||Dec. 4|
|Dec. 16||Dec. 18|
|Jan. 13||Jan. 15|
- October 1, 2020
The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) works with Polk County Health Department to complete close contact tracing for positive COVID-19 cases. Under current guidelines, we have been using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of close contacts to determine who may need to quarantine for 14 days.
Close contact is defined by the CDC as within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more, regardless of personal protective equipment.
Based on new guidance from Iowa health agencies, we want to share new quarantine information that could affect you as a WDMCS employee or student:
Who made the changes?
Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced in a press conference Tuesday, Sept. 29, the changes for Iowa schools.
What are the changes?
- A close contact no longer needs to quarantine for 14 days IF the close contact AND the person who tested positive for COVID-19 were properly wearing face masks during the time of exposure. The close contact must also monitor for symptoms and not return if symptoms start.
- This new change ONLY applies if both people were wearing face masks. Gaiters or face shields are no longer considered equally as safe. This means if one or both of the people were wearing a gaiter or face shield, the 14-day quarantine would still apply.
Does this mean everyone is now required to wear face masks instead of gaiters or face shields?
- Because of the new guidance, we strongly encourage all students and staff to wear face masks. However, if someone chooses to wear a gaiter or face shield, they need to understand they will need to quarantine for 14 days if they are ever identified as a close contact.
- We still require a face covering (face masks, gaiter, or face shield) for all students and staff. The only difference is we are strongly encouraging people to change to face masks but will not require that change at this time.
What does this mean for people who are in quarantine now?
- School nurses and Human Resources staff are contacting anyone who is currently quarantined to confirm if face masks were worn at the time of exposure. If they were AND are not experiencing any symptoms, they can immediately return to school.
How will I know if I’m a close contact and need to quarantine?
WDMCS will continue to send messages and PCHD guidance to WDMCS students and staff considered close contacts of a district-related case. This will include whether or not close contacts need to quarantine. COVID-19 information will continue to be updated each weekday on the WDMCS website, but we will no longer email families or staff who are not close contacts to announce positive COVID-19 cases at buildings.
District leadership and the Board of Education will be sent daily summaries of any cases across the district. We will also communicate with building staff and families if there is ever a need for a class or building temporary transition to online learning.
Get COVID-19 Updates
- October 1, 2020