Winterset Community Schools Meets the Needs of Students + Families During the COVID-19 Crisis
Certainly, none of us imagined the Spring of 2020 would ever unfold like it has. When we dismissed our 1,750 students and 250 staff members for Spring Break on Friday, March 13, we all anticipated we would return in a week with stories of our travels, hobbies, rest and relaxation. Instead, our new normal is figuring out how to best connect with our students and families to ensure they are safe, fed and continuing to learn. Since Gov. Reynolds announced schools should close, we have been focusing on how to support our students, families and community in phases.
Phase I: Ensuring Students Are Fed + Parents Have Childcare
Monday, Wednesday and Friday cars line up at our elementary to receive lunches. Weekly, we are sending out over 2,000 lunches. Local businesses and families have stepped up to help. Eggs were distributed by our local egg producer, Rose Acre Farms. A generous donor has handed out thousands of dollars — $50 at a time — in the form of gift certificates to local restaurants. Food boxes from our food pantry are handed out on Thursday afternoons. We’ve worked with families to get connected to daycare opportunities, and staff members currently not working have volunteered to help families of essential workers when they are in a pinch. Our local pediatrician put together a short video on appropriate social distancing and how important it is for all of us to follow the CDC guidelines.
Phase II: Checking In + Letting Students Know We’re There
While the school doors are closed, the school heart is still beating. We want our students to know that everything will be okay. Every teacher is reaching out to each of their students to check in with them. We are using social media to connect with our students and families. Check out our Twitter and Facebook accounts to see some of the fun projects and videos. These include: highlighting each of our seniors, posting pictures and stories of students and families learning, a contest of basketball tricks, as well as stories and pictures of teachers at home with their families. We are doing all of this to keep spirits high and to encourage everyone to stay connected.
Phase III: Continued Learning
Voluntary learning opportunities are being shared with all students. Our biggest message to parents and students is to use this time as an opportunity to connect with your child and infuse learning in their everyday activities. Parenting and teaching are difficult. Trying to do both is messy. We are encouraging parents to find things that you and your child both enjoy, inject reading, math and writing into everyday activities, set a schedule, explore together, don’t strive for perfection, have fun and laugh. Here’s a look at some of what parents and students have been doing:
Phase IV: Keeping Things as Normal as Possible
We have many students who were enrolled in DMACC courses. These courses have moved online where our teachers can connect with the students electronically to ensure they are progressing and will be able to finish out the course. We have a handful of seniors completing their AA and high school degrees simultaneously. We are making sure they can complete these in time for graduation. Even our high school teachers decided to meet for a virtual lunch this week!
All in all, we want Winterset Community School District students and families to know that we are in this together and as was posted on the fence of our elementary …
You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here.