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Dear Parents and Community Members:

On Sunday, Governor Kim Reynolds announced a recommendation that all schools in the state of Iowa close for a period of four weeks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

We will adhere to this recommendation. The district will be closed effective March 16 for a period of at least 4 weeks.

The closure affects all West Branch programming, including before- and after-school activities, all athletic and extracurricular practices and competitions, and all weekend events.

We have been preparing for this situation and continue to work on online learning programming for our students. We will be providing more information towards the end of this week. If you have any questions, please contact your child’s building principal.

In addition, the CDC recommends avoiding large-group gatherings of 50 or more people.

The coronavirus is thought to be spread via person-to-person contact through contaminated air droplets from coughing and sneezing by an infected person. The symptoms are similar to the regular seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and coughing. Some people with coronavirus have reported additional symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some situations, the virus can develop into pneumonia.

Individuals who need medical care should call their medical provider to report their illness prior to seeking care at a clinic, physician’s office, or hospital. Parents of students exhibiting flu-like symptoms or staff exhibiting flu-like symptoms are asked to contact the Cedar County Health Department at ( 563) 886-2226.

We know that this school closure will have an enormous impact on our students and families in the coming weeks. We will continue to keep you updated via email, text, social media, and our website, at www.west-branch.k12.ia.us. Please stay healthy as we work through this incredibly challenging time in our community, state and nation.

Sincerely,
Marty Jimmerson, Superintendent

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Is the District allowing student trips?

The District has recommended the postponement or cancellation of all international travel as advised by the CDC and IDPH. Should staff or families plan to travel outside of the United States, please email ​tfryauf@west-branch.k12.ia.us​ should future tracking be necessary.

Does the District have recommendations for private independent student travel?

The CDC has identified 28 additional countries with a Level 3 Travel Notice, meaning avoid all non-essential travel due to widespread or ongoing transmission of COVID-19. The full list of countries identified with a Level 3 Travel Warning can be found here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices​. The Iowa Department of Public Health recommends that anyone who visits these countries voluntarily self-isolates for 14 days upon their return.

Is the District prohibiting private independent staff travel?

The CDC has identified 28 additional countries with a Level 3 Travel Notice, meaning avoid all non-essential travel due to widespread or ongoing transmission of COVID-19. The full list of countries identified with a Level 3 Travel Warning can be found here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices​. The Iowa Department of Public Health recommends that anyone who visits these countries voluntarily self-isolates for 14 days upon their return.

Employees unable to return to the country due to voluntary travel to a country that is part of the European travel ban will need to use available leave for the days they are excluded from returning to the U.S. Sick leave is only available if the employee is required to observe a COVID-19 self-isolation period or other CDC / IDPH recommendation, and will require a physician clearance to return to work.

If you plan to travel out of the US, please email the school nurse at tfryauf@west-branch.k12.ia.us​ for future tracking purposes if needed.

Is the District sending staff to conferences outside the District?

The District is suspending all future out of state professional development registration and travel requests until further notice.

Will my child’s absences be excused?

Yes, any COVID-19 related absences will be excused.

What is the District doing about make-up work for missed classes?

There is no plan to close school at this time. The District is following its current practices regarding make-up work and missed assignments when a family chooses to keep their child(ren) at home.

When is the District closing schools?

There is currently no plan to close WBCSD. The District is reviewing the situation on a daily basis. Any decision to close school following spring break will be made following recommendations by the Iowa Department of Public Health, Cedar County Public Health and the CDC.

My child attends class at the Kirkwood Regional Center and I have been told they have canceled classes. Is that true?

Beginning March 23 through at least April 10, Kirkwood Regional Center will not have students attend any of their regularly scheduled classes. Both Arts and Science and Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructors will be delivering course content and material through an online format. Instructors will be reaching out to their students with instructions and expectations on how to access course material. It is imperative that your students check and review their Kirkwood email during this time frame. This is Kirkwood’s official method of communication to students. Students are still expected to attend their classes at the home high school.

Will the District provide opportunities for online learning if schools close?

As of now, the District is holding school as scheduled. The District continues to work with the Iowa Department of Education around the potential for online learning and missed instructional time. If the District does need to cancel school, there is currently no indication from the State that online learning days can count for missed days of school. Therefore, these would not count as student instructional days and could be made up at the end of the school year. The best option right now is exploring enrichment opportunities that could be made available to students or ways students could voluntarily continue their learning at home.

If the state mandates school closure AND the state says online educational days count as actual instructional days, students will be considered truant if they are not completing our designated expectation of daily hours on iXL.

My child has an IEP. Will special education services be provided if schools close?

As of now, we are not closing schools. However if schools would need to be closed and the District moves to State-approved online learning (as opposed to voluntary education enrichment opportunities), the District will provide special education and related services to students with IEPs. If parents choose to keep their students home, the District will continue to work to determine how this impacts the student’s instructional needs as outlined in their IEP.

If school is closed, will students still receive meals?

Currently plans to have a “grab and go” lunch available​. ​We know that many of our students

depend on the meals they receive at school. It is our goal to continue to provide food should the school close. Additional information would be shared at that time.

Is the District cleaning buildings regularly?

Yes, the District has a regular cleaning schedule for all buildings. In addition to the measures already in place, the District will conduct cleaning procedures – as recommended by the CDC – over spring break. Additionally, all buses will be virus fumigated.

While school is in session, I would like my child to wear a facemask. Is that allowed?

Per the CDC, IDPH, and CCPH, face masked should only be worn by individuals that are symptomatic as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Staff and students should not wear masks while at school. If an individual wears a mask to school, he or she will be asked if they are sick or symptomatic. If the individual answers yes, the individual (student or staff member) will be sent home. If the individual answers that they are not sick, he or she will be asked to remove the mask if staying at school. The exception to this would be students with an autoimmune disorder who currently wear a mask throughout influenza season.

As always, parents, students, and staff must make the decision that is best for them and their household and should choose to stay at home if they do not feel it is in their best interest to remain at school without a mask as a precaution.

Busing and student transportation services will continue without change at this time.

Both entrances at the combined high school and middle school will be secure. This means visitors during the day would enter a secure vestibule adjacent to the office. This will dramatically improve security at the high school, which currently opens directly to the commons.

Resources

Non-Discrimination Policy

It is the policy of the West Branch Community School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status in its educational programs and its employment practices. There is a grievance procedure for processing complaints of discrimination. If you have any questions or a grievance related to this policy please contact the district’s Equity Coordinator, Jessica Burger, Elementary Principal, 148 North Oliphant St., West Branch, IA 52358, 319-643-7211, jburger@west-branch.k12.ia.us

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