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Articles from July 2020

RTL Update – Timeline / UEN Letter

Here is the latest information around Return to Learn for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Updated Recommendation/Approval Date of RTL Model:

Next Monday, August 3, a recommendation will be made to the school board about the delivery model to start the school year. This is a week earlier than what was originally communicated to allow the District and families more time to plan for the start of school. The school board meeting will be held virtually and can be accessed at the Zoom URL below or watched live on our YouTube Channel. 

https://ames-k12-ia-us.zoom.us/j/87016509538

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RTL Update – Transportation / Face Coverings

Transportation Bus Request
 

Durham Transportation is beginning to create bus routes for the 20-21 school year. 

The online registration process includes the bus transportation request, but you MUST check YES if you want your child to be considered for busing for the 2020-2021 school year. It is easier to remove your student from a route than to add them at the last minute.

Please contact Leslie Weible (transportation@ames.k12.ia.us) with transportation-related questions or changes to your original busing request.

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Official Form to Request Online Learning

Below you will find links to two forms on our website that will be used to officially request online learning for school starting on August 24. 

As a reminder, on August 10 (or a date to be determined before that time), the Ames CSD will make a recommendation to the school board on what delivery model to start the school year. The school district has two options: On-Site Delivery for all students or Hybrid 1 which is half on-site and half online learning structured in A/B days. 

The school district cannot choose online learning for all students in the District, but parents can voluntarily select that option. Please read the questions and answers below before filling out the online request forms:

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Ames CSD Mourns the Passing of Ames High Teacher and Coach Dan Flannery

Dan Flannery

Ames CSD Mourns the Passing of Ames High Teacher and Coach Dan Flannery

The Ames Community School District family and community mourns the passing of longtime Ames High teacher and storied Ames High Swim Coach Dan Flannery, who passed away Tuesday morning. 

“Dan was Ames High Pride. He loved our students, our high school, and our community. This is a huge loss for not only our school community, but the swimming community in Ames and across Iowa,” said Superintendent Jenny Risner. “Dan was committed to excellence in his program and his success speaks for itself. But what was even more impressive was his ability to build strong relationships with his student-athletes that lasted well beyond high school. He made those he coached better athletes and better people.”

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Clarification on Aspects of RTL

We have received a lot of great questions and want to provide clarity on a few key aspects of Return to Learn options since the Governor’s proclamation and Department of Education guidance. 

What is the timeline for decision-making?

Currently, the timeline for choosing the start of school delivery model remains at August 10. It was discussed at the July 20 school board meeting about possibly moving that date up, as well as other timeline events such as the building-specific meetings that were scheduled for August 11-13, to help families plan for the start of school. Any changes would be communicated and also posted on our website. 

https://www.ames.k12.ia.us/district/district/return-to-learn/return-learn-timeline/

 

What options does the Ames CSD have for Return to Learn in light of the Governor’s proclamation?

When a recommendation is presented to the school board, whether on August 10 or a newly determined date, the Ames CSD now has two options: On-Site Delivery for all students or Hybrid 1 which is half on-site and half online learning structured in A/B days. 

The proclamation and guidance from the Department of Education have taken away the school district’s ability to choose the Remote Continuous Learning online option for all students. 

 

Can parents still choose the 100% online option?

Yes. Regardless of the delivery option that is voted upon by the Ames school board, parents will have the opportunity to choose the 100% online option for their students. 

 

I completed the parent survey, but I want to change my answers.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our parent survey. The intention of the survey was to provide the District with broad data to help inform our decision-making. We understand that the governor’s proclamation may impact some of your answers. For parents who are interested in the 100% online option, you are not bound by your survey answers. An official form will be sent out at a later date and a requested deadline for decision-making will be updated in any revised timeline. 

 

How can I sign my student up for the 100% online option?

We have not yet sent out the forms to parents to make that request. We are determining the best format for that delivery.

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Healthiest Ames Seeking Volunteers to Help Provide Face Masks for Students

Healthiest Ames Masks

Healthiest Ames is organizing a collaborative, community project to provide face masks for every student in the Ames Community School District. The project is a two-pronged approach to making face masks available. Community volunteers are working to sew a large quantity of face masks, and Healthiest Ames is also organizing a campaign to collect financial donations to purchase face masks. The project will supply every student in the ACSD with at least one face mask. Ames Middle School and Ames High School students and Ames PTOs are currently working toward a successful outcome. 

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Steven Hopper named as new Director of Technology

Steven Hopper

The Ames Community School District is excited to announce Steven Hopper as the new Director of Technology. Last school year, Hopper was a School Administration Manager with the Ankeny Community School District. Prior to that, he was a Curriculum Technology Coordinator in Ankeny and an Instructional Technology Consultant with Heartland AEA.   

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RTL Update from Governor’s Proclamation and DE Guidance

Today, Governor Reynolds signed a proclamation and the Iowa Department of Education (DE) issued new guidance that directly related to how school districts must return to school in the fall. Both the proclamation and Senate File 2310 state that in-person instruction is the presumed method of instruction for the upcoming school year. 

Here are the delivery model definitions currently in our Return to Learn plan:

  • On-Site Delivery – A full return of students and staff to school buildings. This delivery model will be done in buildings with face to face delivery of instruction for all students given application of mitigation steps described in the plan. 
  • Required Continuous Learning – This delivery model will be done via remote learning, either online or packet-based, in the event that schools remain closed due to the pandemic. Opportunities to interact with staff and students would occur virtually.
  • Hybrid 1 Learning (state-mandated) – This delivery model will be done by alternating students between on-site and remote learning. Using appropriate mitigation steps while on-site, most students will attend school 2 days per week and engage in remote learning each week on other days. This model would be used if the state-mandated that schools operate at 50% capacity, for example.  
  • Hybrid 2 Learning (family choice) – This delivery model will closely mirror the on-site model for most students. However, some families may choose to have children remain in a required continuous learning model for personal safety reasons.

 

Below is how the new guidance impacts each of those delivery models

Required Continuous LearningThe new guidance prohibits school districts from providing instruction primarily through remote learning without explicit authorization by the governor, but does allow for parents or guardians to voluntarily select required continuous learning as a delivery model. As of today, the district will now be required to complete an approval process for any and all online courses. We have yet to receive guidance on what this process will entail. At this point, this means that district-wide online learning is not an option that our District can select.

Hybrid 1The new guidance dictates that districts must deliver core subject matter (English, math, social studies, and science) in a face-to-face delivery model. Additionally, 50% of student instruction must be delivered in an on-site, face-to-face delivery model. How these two pieces of guidance impact our proposed Hybrid 1 is yet to be determined with more guidance coming next week. What we do know is that our current delivery model for Hybrid 1 must be modified in order to meet these new requirements.

On-Site DeliveryThis delivery model is the assumed default delivery model and the preferred method of instructional delivery by the Governor’s proclamation and Department of Education guidance. 

Hybrid 2 This guidance is clear that parents or guardians may voluntarily select required continuous learning as a delivery model. 

Metrics / Ability to Close Temporarily – The new guidance also states that school districts do not have the authority to immediately close a classroom, wing, or building in the event of a COVID outbreak and move to online learning. Districts must seek approval from the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, to temporarily move a classroom or an entire building into an online delivery model. As a District, this is a troublesome requirement and one that works in conflict with the work around developing a metric for decision-making with Story County school districts, Mary Greeley, and Story County Public Health. 

We know that there will be many questions about how this new guidance impacts the beginning of school. As a District, we are still awaiting clarity from the Department of Education. They are scheduled to hold a webinar on Monday, July 20 and our hope is that they will provide additional guidance for our many questions at that time. 

We are committed to providing our parents with the most up-to-date information as we continue to develop our plans around Return to Learn. As we have continued to see, these plans are fluid and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our parents and community. 

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Free Books For Students at Grab and Go Meal Sites

Book Giveaway

Ames Community School District families will again have access to free books at four grab and go meal sites: Meeker, Mitchell, Sawyer, and the Ames Public Library. One book per week per student will be distributed on Fridays only for students in grades pre-K through 12. Scheduled dates are July 17, 24, 31 and August 7, from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Books were purchased by the Ames Public Library Friends Foundation and are individually packaged according to grade-level appropriateness.

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Remainder of Ames High Softball Season Canceled

Rack of Softballs

Earlier today, we were informed of a positive test for COVID-19 within our Ames High softball program. Based on guidance from Story County Public Health, all Ames High softball activities will be stopped for the remainder of the season including games that were scheduled for today.

Story County Public Health is advising all junior varsity/varsity players and coaches to self-quarantine for 14 days regardless of showing symptoms.

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