August 14, 2020 IRCSD COVID-19 Reopening Update

August 14, 2020 IRCSD COVID-19 Reopening Update
Posted on 08/14/2020
August 14, 2020 IRCSD COVID-19 Reopening UpdateAugust 14, 2020

Dear Parents & Guardians,

Thank you for your patience and understanding as the IRCSD leadership works on the many, many operational details related to school reopening.  Keeping you informed is important to us, so this update is focused on two main areas: Hybrid/Blended Learning and Cohorts as well as Communication Channels. 

Hybrid/Blended Learning and Cohorts

As shared previously and described in our reopening materials, IRCSD, like most schools, will open with a 50% hybrid model of instruction. This will allow our students and staff to begin school safely with reduced total numbers and allow everyone to acclimate to the return to in-person learning. This decision comes as a result of the great preference shown by our community to provide in-person options for schooling, yet keep health and safety in mind. 

With the exception of students in a self-contained specialized classroom, all students will be assigned to one of two teams.  Team A will attend in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday and learn at home Wednesday-Friday. Team Z will attend in-person instruction on Thursday and Friday and learn at home Monday-Wednesday.  Wednesday will be an at-home learning day for all students. This day will also serve as a deep-cleaning day for our school buildings, and teachers will focus on communication and cooperative planning for the complex blended lessons associated with this hybrid opening. (More details can be found in the reopening materials.)

Cohorts for the hybrid schedule are set based on student last names and household (siblings with the same address), with an eye toward balance. Specifically, since IRCSD is rural and dependent upon bus transportation, special care will be given to balance bus routes AND classrooms with the intention of getting as close to 50% as reasonably possible in all areas. As you can imagine, this is not an easy process. For this reason, there will be very little movement or change between cohorts.

It is anticipated that cohort assignments will be sent to families via email during the week of August 17th, though you can anticipate that most “first half of the alphabet” (last name letters A through Lave) will be Monday-Tuesday, and the remainder of the students will be Thursday-Friday. There were some limited exceptions made to keep households together or for balancing purposes, but the pattern holds for almost all families. Again, we respectfully ask that you do not request a switch in the team assignments so that we can keep bus routes, class rosters, and academic teams balanced.  

Communication Channels

Again, communication continues to be a priority, and these weekly updates, together with the Town Hall meetings, website updates, social media, posts and the sharing of documents/materials help us all stay “in the know” during these rapidly changing times. A few important details include:

  • School Website - Our website (www.ircsd.org) includes a wealth of information, especially in the COVID-19 section. You can find links to our reopening plan, survey results, resource links, and other useful information. 
  • Frequently Asked Questions - One of the most valuable resources available is our reopening FAQ. This document is updated regularly to reflect common questions or concerns received through our questionnaire forms, virtual meetings, and social media exchanges. Check it out in the COVID-19 section or at ircsd.org/reopening_faq
  • Townhall Meetings - We have at least two more district-wide meetings scheduled, and stay on the lookout for more district or building-based sessions. The next meetings will be held on Monday, August 17th from 6-7PM and Thursday, August 20th from 11AM -12PM. Check out our website for links and more details. 
  • ParentSquare - We are excited to announce that IRCSD has a new communication partner! ParentSquare is a wonderful communication program that will allow for a single channel of communication between school and home. It is accessible via email, login, mobile app, and similar in format to common social media platforms. IRCSD is in the final stages of implementation and will invite all PreK-12 parents to participate in the latter part of August.  For more information, check out ircsd.org/parentsquare.
  • Parent Email - This is becoming more and more important. It is essential that parents maintain an active email address. Schools are using email as a primary channel for correspondence, especially during times where it is not practical to send or share large volumes of paper materials (letters, notices, progress reports, etc.). Please keep your child’s school updated regarding your best email address. Thank you!
As mentioned previously, thank you for your understanding and flexibility during these difficult times. We understand that many parents, students, staff, and community members have vastly different perspectives regarding reopening, but in essence, we all want the same thing - a safe, healthy, and sound education for our children. We appreciate your continued participation in our Town Hall Meetings, our community surveys - including the important transportation survey released last week. Please stay on the lookout for more information over the coming days and weeks from the district as well as the individual school buildings. September is approaching!

I look forward to “chatting with you soon,” albeit virtually. Until then, please stay safe, stay healthy, and stay WarriorStrong! 

With respect and understanding,

Mary Anne Dobmeier, Superintendent
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