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Consideration of Changing the School Start Date

August 6, 2020 01:00 PM

Hello, CRCSD Families, 

In our recently published Return to Learn plan, we stated our three guiding principles: safety of students and staff, options for families, and needed flexibility. This communication to you focuses specifically on needed flexibility, as it relates to safety and providing three educational options. 

We are considering a change in the school start date to be extended one week to August 31, 2020, pending board approval on Monday, August 10th. This change does not affect the educational choice you selected for your student(s) by yesterday’s deadline. With a one week delay, it also does not significantly impact the overall school calendar that has been established for the 2020-2021 school year.

The decision to move the school start date involves many factors, but it can be summarized by these foundational reasons:

  • Additional time is needed to respond to the ever-changing state guidance from the Iowa Governor, Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Department of Public Health
    • Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD), as many other districts in the state, are in reactive-planning mode as our plans need to continually change with the shifts in proclamations and the state’s delayed announcements
  • The number of COVID-19 cases are rising in Linn County and helpful guidance from Linn County Public Health has revealed the heightened need to implement the safety measure of a delayed start date
    • The safety of our students and staff is our first priority
    • We are confident in our planned safety measures for students and staff; we need community support to also mitigate the spread of COVID-19
  • The results are in from the CRCSD family choices, and we need additional preparation time to react 
    • 65% of families want in-person learning and that takes planning to accommodate for all the additional safety measures needed to conduct in-person learning during a pandemic
    • 35% of families have chosen one of the two virtual learning options and that requires more time for CRCSD staff to be reallocated and garner more professional learning for an online classroom 
  • CRCSD staffing has altered due to resignations and time for adjustments and additional hiring is needed
    • Resignations in two work groups have increased this week: transportation and paraprofessionals
    • There is also an anticipated shortage of substitute teachers and increased hiring is being conducted for permanent building substitutes
  • The district is experiencing a back order of essential supplies
    • We have ordered safety and additional technology far in advance and some of our supplies are on backorder, with the positive anticipation that they will arrive by the extended school start date
  • There are several buildings and ground complications
    • We have some buildings and ground complications, including Jefferson High School being without electrical power for over two weeks, and this has delayed preparations

CRCSD has challenges to work through, but if we want our kids to be back in school and experiencing educational and social enrichment, we ALL need to do our part. Let’s take a moment to go back to the increased COVID-19 numbers in Linn County because this is very important for us all to think about. When we serve 16,000 students and nearly 3,000 employees, CRCSD has a large impact on our community. We are here to do our part, but we ask you to do your part also. Mask up. Social distance. Wash hands. Mask up (worth repeating). If you do your part to help bring down the amount of COVID-19 cases in Linn County, we can help the community by getting kids back to school. 

We recognize that a one-week delay is an imposition on families . . . we know this is a challenge. Thank you, in advance, for your patience and grace during this historic time. I wish you and your families the best of health. We look forward to welcoming the kids soon!

Noreen Bush
Cedar Rapids Community School District

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