NFV News

June 2020

A Message for the Class of 2020

I really don't know what to say. Your class was dropped into a discouraging situation that has forced on us many insufficient ways to recognize your accomplishments. We are hopeful for the nearly normal commencement that is planned for this summer. You will stand out as the graduates of "that year when we had the quarantines." I do know that we've seen ambition and perseverance among your class, you've engaged in all kinds of activities in your shortened senior year. Use this loss of normalcy to strengthen your resolve to succeed, as dissapointment should strengthen you, not define you.

Congratulations to all of you and best of luck in your future.

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The Planning

The title above is a hot link to the Department of Educations COVID-19 Guidance and Information for families and educators. In addition to the many guidance documents for school officials, they have accumulated a good number of tools for parents to deal with on line learning. The Return-to-Learn documents should be enlightening as they lay out the multiple ways we could be delivering come August. There will be some surveys coming out in the coming weeks to help us through our planning, so keep an eye on emails or snail mail from the district.

With the state opening up and the summer sports getting up and going we are very hopeful that conditions are right to have students on-site when school starts. However, we will have to assure everyone's health and safety. For that reason, three Return-to-Learn delivery systems have been identified for fall semester and we are developing plans for each one. Beside the traditional On-Site delivery, the DOE is requiring a Continuous Learning Model that is required distance learning for students, and a Hybrid Learning model that could take several different arrangements.

A Hybrid model of education would function with students in school and students out of school at the same time. If the COVID situation is questionable, with stringent social distancing required to keep everyone safe, we could employ hybrid learning to bring half the students in one day, and have the second half engaged in learning from home. Every other day then a family would have students either at home or at school, we would NOT split up students from one family in this plan. The alternating days would allow us to keep students on the bus and in the classrooms maintaining a full 6 ft distance from each other. It would involve more time for busing as shuttle drivers may have multiple trips every morning and afternoon. The benefit of this plan is the connections students would have to their teachers on an every-other day basis. No, it's not convenient, and the scheduling would be a major headache, but I know we could make it work.

There are also some other models that have some students on-site and some at home; it could be the students with the largest achievement gaps, or with disabilities, that go on site and others stay on distance learning. Or we could just bring the youngest grades in regularly, there is a ton of flexibility in hybrid models, but each would be designed to reduce crowding on buses, in hallways and in classrooms.

There are also some policies and processes that could change on a temporary basis, such as attendance policies that leave students with underlying health issues to stay exclusively at home. And don't forget that we have teachers and other staff that could also need to stay home and teach from home, streaming to school. Sick leaves and flexible scheduling may provide for other hybrid learning scenerios like these.

We have a team of nearly 30 staff and administrators working on these plans. We will use data from several sources, including surveys to staff and public. We will be scheduling a SIAC committee soon to receive input. This is truly a difficult planning task, and I am certain this administration and next years' will work together to assure health and safety first, but also the learning by students of all ages.

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Ever since I was 6 years old I have been going to school in August, as a student (17 years), as a teacher (14 years), or an administrator (25 years). What will I do next August? Probably be thinking of all the work NFV staff will be gearing up to do and being thankful for the diversions of retirement. Two of those diversions are pictured here, but there will also be some golf, bicycle trails and maybe some fishing in between the babysitting.

It has been an extraordinary decade for me at NFV, made special by the great people I've worked with. Of the 6 school districts I've been a part of over the past 39 years, this group is the best. But not only them, the communities of West Union, Hawkeye, Fayette, Clermont, Elgin and Wadena are filled with very kind and thoughtful folks. The real "Iowa Nice" that permeates through everything you do.

I sincerely thank you all for the support of Valley, North Fayette and NFV school districts. With your support these fine schools have come together to create a stabile district that should serve your students very well.

This may be my last official correspondence, but I'll be around until the end of June. Be safe, and Proud to be NFV!