Van Allen Newsletter

A Preview and an Update for Our School Community

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Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP)

A final reminder that Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) testing begins next week. Students in third, fourth, and sixth grades will be testing Tuesday through Thursday. Students in fifth grade will be testing Tuesday through Friday. Testing will begin promptly at 8:30am each day.

  • Third through sixth grade students will take the Math assessments on Tuesday, March 29th
  • Third through sixth grade students will take the Reading assessments on Wednesday, March 30th
  • Third through sixth grade students will take the Language assessments on Thursday, March 31st
  • Fifth grade students will take the Science assessments on Friday, April 1st

To ensure that your child is fully prepared to take these assessments, you can assist with the following:

  • Please make every attempt for your child to be on-time and present during these test administration dates/times.

  • All students will test using their fully charged, school issued Chromebook.
  • As a result, Chromebooks will be kept at school starting on Monday, March 28th through the duration of testing. Please make sure that your child brings their Chromebook and their charger with them to school on Monday, March 28th. Charging locations and storage will be in each student's classroom.

  • No other electronic devices will be allowed during the test administration time including cell phones, smart watches, tablets, etc.
  • If students have these items on them, they will need to be turned-in during testing.

  • Please talk with your child to make sure that they have working earbuds/headphones that are also comfortable to wear and available to them at school.

  • As always, please encourage your child to bring a water bottle with them to school.

  • Help ensure that students get plenty of rest the night before each test.

  • Along the same lines, making sure that your child eats a good, healthy breakfast each morning is another key.

  • Talk to your child about the test. Encourage them to do their best; we want students to take the tests seriously, but we don’t want them to feel overly anxious as a result.

  • You may assist your child in a practice assessment which can be found online at, under the “Test Preparation” tab.

As always, thank you for your support.

- Eric Ewald
Principal, Van Allen Elementary

Inspire Learning. Act with Empathy. #VanAllenPride

Conditions for Learning Survey

Our district is getting ready to administer an annual school climate and culture survey called Conditions for Learning to students in grades 3-12 This survey administration is required by the state’s plan to meet a federal law called the Every Student Succeeds Act. Our school will conduct the survey in the month of April. All Iowa public school districts will use the Conditions for Learning Survey to improve safety, student engagement, and the overall learning environment so that all Iowa students have optimum conditions for learning. Our work to improve safety, student engagement, and the overall learning environment will have a lasting impact on the future.

Iowa measures conditions for learning by asking the real experts each year - our students. This is their chance to make their voice heard, and we intend to listen. Studies have shown this work matters. Improving skills such as solving problems, working out conflict, and working with other people in a group has led to double-digit increases in achievement test scores, improved classroom behavior, and improved attitudes.

All public schools in Iowa will use an online survey to assess the conditions for learning in their school for students in grades 3-12. Student responses will be confidential, and individual response data will not be available to anyone in the survey platform or in reporting. The Iowa City Community School District] will receive aggregated data annually at the building level to support the alignment of professional development with identified culture and climate needs.

We will ask your child to simply fill out a confidential Survey. The Survey will focus on issues ranging from student safety to positive student relationships, to school rules and how they are enforced. A high rate of participation by students in completing the Conditions for Learning Survey is important for obtaining the most complete school climate data for our school. Support from you in communicating to your students that this is their chance to be heard and to be part of the effort to improve conditions for learning at their school is critical.

Thank you for partnering with us to improve conditions for learning in our schools throughout the state. Included is an overview of this opportunity, as well as:

  1. An information summary about the Survey (attached)
  2. A written refusal form if you do not want your child/children to participate in completing the Survey provided to the building principal (attached)

Please let us know if you have any questions and thank you again!


Matt Degner
Iowa City Community School District

Update on Mask Requirements in Schools (3/1/22)

Dear Families and Staff,

This evening, the Board held a special meeting to discuss our District’s current mask requirements. This comes after the CDC recently released updated guidance on face coverings in indoor spaces, including school settings. While the CDC is recommending continued mask use in areas categorized as having high transmission rates, the new guidance states that mask requirements can be relaxed in communities with low or medium transmission rates. Johnson County is currently in the “medium” transmission rate category.

Therefore, the Iowa City Community School District will no longer require face masks to be worn in our buildings, on our campuses, and on school buses as long as our county remains in the low or medium transmission rate category. Should the county move into the high category, this decision will be revisited again at that time. This change will become effective immediately; however, we still encourage indoor mask use for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to our schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Student and staff health and safety continue to be our priority, and our practice throughout the pandemic has been to anchor our health and safety protocols to the recommendations of the health experts. We recognize the significance of this change because of the vital role the use of face masks plays in controlling the spread of COVID-19 within our community. However, we make this decision with the confidence that we continue to follow CDC and JCPH recommendations.

While we are relaxing this individual COVID-19 prevention strategy, it is critical that we remain vigilant as a community to ensure we do not experience another surge in cases. We urge everyone to get vaccinated (and boosted) if eligible and to stay home if sick. We appreciate your support and collaboration in keeping our school community safe.


Matt Degner
Iowa City Community School District

COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Site Now Open at Liberty High School (1/12/22)

We are excited to share that our District has partnered with Nomi Health to offer a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in the Liberty High School parking lot at 1400 South Dubuque Street in North Liberty. The site is now open to the public. Hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. Appointments can be made by visiting If you are unable to make an appointment online, you may register at the site.

The drive-thru site will offer both rapid antigen testing (with an average 30-minute turnaround time) and PCR testing (with a 24-48-hour turnaround time). Samples are processed in a CLIA-certified laboratory using FDA-authorized kits. There are no out-of-pocket costs, but those with insurance are asked to bring their insurance card.

Further, we are working with Nomi Health to set up two additional testing sites within our District. We will provide more information to families and staff as soon as those sites are operational.

Updates on Isolation, Quarantine (1/7/22)

This week the CDC released updated COVID-19 quarantine and isolation guidance for K-12 schools. This guidance has also been adopted by IDPH and JCPH. On Monday, January 10, 2022, our District will transition to these updated protocols, which are detailed below. While the CDC has modified quarantine and isolation guidance for schools, we continue to require masks for all students, staff, and visitors to our schools. In addition, we highly recommend that all eligible individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must follow the below protocols:

  • Stay home for five days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five days, you can return to school on day six.
  • If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves and you have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • The same protocols apply for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals testing positive for COVID-19.

If you have been exposed to a COVID-positive individual in your home and you are fully vaccinated and boosted (for those eligible), you are not required to quarantine. However, it is recommended that you wear a mask around others for ten days, monitor for symptoms, and be tested for COVID-19 on day five. Unvaccinated individuals who have a household exposure to someone with COVID-19 must follow the below protocols:

  • Stay home for five days.
  • If possible, take a COVID-19 test on day five.
  • If you develop symptoms, get a test and continue to stay home.
  • If you have no symptoms after five days, you can return to school on day six.
  • Please Note: The above bullets also apply to vaccinated individuals that are eligible for the booster but have not yet received it and those that have not fully completed the initial vaccination process (individuals that have received one of two doses).
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Our District will hold a Kindergarten Round-Up for children who are 5 years old on or before September 15, 2022, and who will begin Kindergarten in the 2022-23 school year.

Date, place, and time:

If you have not yet registered your child for Kindergarten, please contact the office at (319)688-1185 and we will be happy to assist you.

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2021-2022 Van Allen Elementary School Yearbook on Sale

  • Yearbook price, $10.00

  • Order before April 1st, 2022
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Liberty Summer Sports Camps

Liberty Summer Sports Camps are now open for enrollment. If your child will be a future Liberty student, they are invited to attend. Please click on the link to register for summer camps.

Arrival and Dismissal Procedures - (Links, Below)

Specific Car Line Points of Emphasis:

With the early morning temperatures being so cold, this is a good time to share some reminders in regards to our Student Arrival Procedures to ensure that our car line runs as smooth as possible.

    • Supervision begins at 7:40am. Doors to the building and classrooms will remain closed until 7:40. Please be mindful of this time. School begins at 7:55am.

    • Adults should stay in the vehicle when dropping off students. Please have your child as ready as possible when it is time for them to get out of the car.

    • You should NOT bypass the carline to enter (and/or drop-off in) the parking lot.

    • Children should exit the vehicle onto the sidewalk through the passenger side doors; please do NOT allow children to leave the vehicle on the driver's side.

    • Always pull ahead if you are in the right lane and there is a space ahead of you. When it is cold, we allow students to enter the building through the nearest door.

    • Please share this information with anybody who might drop-off students.

Thank you for following these procedures to ensure everyone’s safety and respect everyone's time. Your attention to this, and your patience are appreciated.

The District is committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment for our students.

When food is served to students in the classroom as a snack, birthday treat, or during a classroom celebration, the following rules apply (ICCSD Wellness Policy 507.9):

  • allow only fresh fruits/vegetables or purchased foods with the ingredients listed (no homemade foods).
  • allow only foods that meet the Healthy Food Guidelines/ Smart Snacks. (the only exception to this would be food-tasting related to district-approved curriculum lessons)
  • not allow foods with peanuts or peanut butter, or foods that were made in a factory where cross-contamination may occur.
  • food that does not meet the guidelines will be sent home.
  • a list of acceptable foods (linked).

Thank you for your attention to this.

Interested in additional resources and supports?

The following resources - Iowa City Area Resources for Students and Families (linked) - are available to assist students and families with academic achievement, mental health, and emotional wellbeing. Additional information on Covid-19 and School Age Child Care assistance are also available.

Let's Celebrate!

Hey Rocket Families, let's celebrate!

Below are two great options to make your child's birthday extra special and raise money for Van Allen!

  1. Birthday Boulder Signup:

  2. Let IC Yards help make your celebration extra special while also giving back to your school. All year long you can enter the code ROCKETS to have $10 of your yard card booking fee donated back to your PTO. Book early to secure your celebration date!


Upcoming PTO Meetings

  • Our final PTO meeting of the year will occur on May 4

2021-2022 District Calendar

  • The elementary school day begins at 7:55am and ends at 2:55pm

  • Please note that our one-hour early release days have returned to being on Thursdays this year
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#VanAllenPride - Follow and Like Us

We use these platforms (below) to highlight our accomplishments (including pictures) and share relevant announcements and reminders.

Masks remain a requirement for all students, staff, and visitors to our schools. In addition, we highly recommend that all eligible individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For individuals that have received the vaccine, we strongly encourage you to get the booster. Boosters are now available for those age 12 and older. For individuals five years of age and older who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine, this vaccine locator may be used to find a provider near you.

Non-Discrimination Statement

It is the policy of the Iowa City 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, activities, or employment practices. There is a grievance procedure for processing complaints of discrimination. If you have questions or a grievance related to this policy, please contact Eric Howard, Director of Equity and Employee Relations, 1725 N. Dodge St., Iowa City, IA 52245, 319-688-1000,
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