Merrill Minute

December 31, 2020

DMPS in Hybrid Model to Start New Year

Greetings, Mustangs,

The DMPS Board of Directors voted on Wednesday to return to the hybrid learning model when school resumes on Monday, January 4.

What does this mean for Merrill students?

  • Beginning on Monday, January 4, we will use our Merrill Hybrid Bell Schedule for all students. (Scroll down in the newsletter to view this schedule.)
  • The Monday/Tuesday cohort will report to the building on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
  • The Thursday/Friday cohort will report to the building on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week.
  • Virtual students will remain virtual.
  • REMINDER: We are still in Semester 1. If you selected a different learning model for Semester 2, that does not begin until Monday, January 25.

If you do not remember which cohort day your student is scheduled for, you can find this information in Infinite Campus.

Below is the Top 10 List for Hybrid students. Please review this list with your student(s) BEFORE returning on Monday, January 4. Thank you!

As 2020 comes to a close, we can see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Please stay vigilant and help us keep our community safe by wearing your mask, practicing physical distancing, washing your hands, and keeping students at home if they feel ill.

Yours in knowing there are brighter days ahead,


Kathryn Panek, Principal

Merrill Middle School

Daily Schedule Beginning Monday, January 4

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Merrill Top 10 List for Hybrid Students

#1 - Wear A Mask

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Day in the life of a Hybrid Student

  • 8:15 - 8:45 Doors open at Merrill. Students may grab breakfast before heading directly to the classroom. (Classroom assignments are found under "schedule" in the Infinite Campus Portal.) There will be LOTS of staff available to help students find their way.

  • 8:45 - 9:15 In-person hybrid students may participate in guided study at Merrill and can begin arriving at 8:15 OR could potentially arrive at Merrill closer to 9:00 or 9:10 if not in need of additional support. All students who are scheduled for in-person instruction need to be in the classroom, computer started up, and ready to learn at 9:14.

  • 9:15-3:25 All students (virtual, "at home" hybrid, and "in-person" hybrid) will either "Team" in to class or attend in-person.

  • 3:25-3:30 Staggered dismissal process - walkers and bikers at 3:25, bus riders as each individual bus arrives, and then passenger vehicle riders at 3:26. Teachers will sweep the hallways and all students need to exit the building by 3:30.
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Day in the life of a Virtual Student

  • 8:15 - 8:45 Virtual students get to sleep in. Enjoy!

  • 8:45 - 9:15 Teachers will be available via a Teams link for additional support, targeted instruction, or guided practice.

  • 9:15-3:25 Students will join classes virtually.

  • 3:25 End of day.

Morning Arrival

Students may arrive at the school beginning at 8:15 a.m. The doors will NOT be unlocked before this time, so please be prepared with an alternative a.m. plan with the cold weather. Upon entering the building, Merrill staff will be available to help students find their way to their first period class.

Walkers: Please use the crosswalk near the east end of the building to cross Grand Avenue.

Bikers: Please park your bikes at the bike rack near the west end of the building.

Riders: You may drop your student off at three different locations:

  • Main entrance loop in front of Merrill
  • In front of Merrill in the lane along Grand Ave.
  • Shriver: Students then will walk up the path to Merrill and enter through the front doors.
  • Passenger Vehicles - Please do NOT use the west bus turnaround in the morning or afternoons. Thank you!

Bus: All students arriving via yellow bus will be dropped off on the west end of the building in the bus turnaround. Please check the Parent Portal on Infinite Campus for routing information.

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Grading and Feedback during a Global Pandemic

Des Moines Public Schools is not unique in facing the challenges of a global pandemic. We, like other urban school districts in Iowa and across the nation are working to balance learning, safety, and long-term solutions to problems created by COVID-19. We understand that the virtual learning model, although the right choice for the health of our community, may reveal and deepen existing inequities impacting student learning despite real progress on making grades in DMPS about what students know and are able to do.

Our secondary students, particularly high school students, face post-secondary consequences that impact everything from solid employment, access to health benefits, scholarship opportunities, military recruiting, college athletics, access to post-secondary career training, and much more. An “F” or course failure on a grade report or transcript during a global health crisis is not equitable or informative of student learning and may have immense impacts on future opportunities. For these reasons, the following changes will be made to 6-8 and 9-12 grading for the 20-21 school year:

  • A statement will be included in transcripts to indicate the unique circumstances in which the course was taken.
  • A designation of “incomplete” will be used for any course failure.
  • Students who receive an “incomplete” will be given opportunities to re-engage and complete their learning.

To track your student’s progress throughout the year, we suggest two steps:

  • Join Canvas as an Observer so that you can see the assignments that your student is being given, the work that is submitted, and the feedback that is received.

  • Check Infinite Campus periodically for updates on SRG topic scores, being sure to select Term 12 for student scores and in-progress grades during first semester.

For more information about SRG in Des Moines Public Schools, please click here. For additional information or questions about Infinite Campus or Canvas navigation, please contact Danielle Taylor or Allison Chartier, Merrill Instructional Coaches. For course specific questions, please contact your child's teacher.

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Hey, Merrill Mustangs! What are you reading?

During the holiday season, we received several donations from community partners to support our efforts to get books in the hands of students. We want to be sure to order the books that you all are looking for. Students, please click here to recommend a book for our Merrill library. Thank you!

Merrill Staff Book Club

Over winter break, a majority of the Merrill staff is participating in a book club to explore how our own personal identities impact our work as educators. After the whole staff read a chapter from Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, staff members selected a book to further explore identity. Here is what we are reading:
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Merrill Links - We are here for you!

DMPS Hybrid Cohort Calendar

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DMPS 2020-2021 Calendar

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January 4: First Day of Hybrid Classes for Monday/Tuesday Cohort

January 6: First Day of Hybrid Classes for Thursday/Friday Cohort

January 18: No School - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 22: End of 1st Semester

January 25: Begin 2nd Semester