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Articles from January 2021

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Return to Fully In-Person Instruction, Feb. 15

Last night, both chambers of the Iowa Legislature passed a bill requiring schools to return to fully in-person instruction on Monday, Feb. 15, and this morning the Governor signed the bill into law. Given this, we are moving forward with plans to resume fully in-person instruction on that day. As you know, we have been actively planning for this transition.


As a district, we remain committed to providing the safest possible environment for our students and staff. We will maintain many of the significant mitigation efforts that have been in place throughout the school year, including:

  • Consistent and correct use of masks
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Contact tracing in collaboration with local health department

Our ability to maintain one of our other key strategies – social distancing – will be most impacted by a required move to fully in-person learning. While we will continue to maximize our spaces and provide social distancing to the extent possible, it is important to know that our ability to do so will be greatly reduced when students return to school daily. This includes classroom setups, lunch configurations, and while on school buses, among others.

With social distancing ability reduced, our collective diligence in maintaining the safety measures listed above will be essential in our continued mitigation efforts.


With the move to fully in-person learning, the district will discontinue its hybrid learning option. Beginning February 15, the district will offer two learning options for the remainder of this school year:

  • Fully Online
  • Fully In-Person

IMPORTANT NOTE: For planning purposes, we are assuming that students in the hybrid model will move to fully in-person learning, and students in the fully online model will remain in that learning option.


If you wish to move from fully in-person (previously hybrid) to fully online, or from fully online to fully in-person learning, COMPLETE OUR LEARNING TRANSITION REQUEST FORM NO LATER THAN WEDNESDAY, FEB. 3.

As we move forward, the safety of our students and staff remains at the forefront of our decision making and we will work hard to make the transition as seamless as possible.

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Advocacy Alert: School Vouchers are Wrong for Iowa

The Iowa Legislature is currently debating proposed legislation that would create a school voucher program in Iowa (being referred to in the bill as Student First Scholarships).

The bill may be debated in the senate in the next few days and could move to the house sometime next week. Now is the time for action.

If passed, this fund would siphon dollars from the state’s already underfunded public schools and would further create a system in which the playing field is not level for all PreK-12 educational institutions.

The Dubuque Community School District strongly opposes this legislation and we hope you will consider advocating in opposition to it as well.


  • Student First Scholarships are the wrong public policy for Iowa and an inappropriate use of public tax dollars.
  • Parents should have the choice to enroll their child in a private or religious school, but not with public taxpayer funds.
  • Use public dollars for public schools, period. The public’s investment should be used to support public community schools which are open to all students regardless of race, religion, gender, socio-economic status and disability. These same expectations do not exist for private educational institutions in our state.
  • This bill allows for outside entities and private organizations to charter a school in our district, without consent of our locally elected School Board. The charter school is then given freedom from regulations that our school district must follow. Why not instead give our public schools flexibility and funding to be innovative?
  • Public funds require public accountability and transparency. Public schools are overseen by a publicly elected citizen governing board, are required to report academic results to the general public, have an annual public financial audit, and are transparent with all expenditures and decision-making. Private and religious schools are not held to that same public standard. Taxpayers have a right to know how their funds are being used, but are left in the dark about the use and impact of voucher funds.
  • A slippery slope toward a costly and expansive voucher program: This voucher program may start small, but as we’ve seen in other states, once a program is established, it is easy to expand. This will pull more resources away from public schools.

View the Iowa Association of School Boards Vouchers Toolkit for additional information and tips for advocating in opposition of school vouchers.


The following legislators represent areas served by the Dubuque Community School District. For a complete directory of legislators, view the FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR tool on the Iowa Legislature website.

You can also register your opposition with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.


Meal Sites Operating on Tuesday, Jan. 26

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, the Dubuque Community School District is implementing its inclement weather meal delivery plan.

No-cost meal service will be available at four Grab n’ Go meal sites to any individual 18 or under (with no infant formula or food served), regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in a district school:

  • Fulton Elementary School (located in the bus drive up lane): 11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
  • Prescott Elementary School (located in the bus drive up lane): 11-11:30 a.m.
  • Washington Middle School (located at the south side main building entrance): 11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
  • Hempstead High School (located next to the softball fields): 11-11:30 a.m.

All “Grab n’ Go” meal bags will consist of a breakfast meal and a lunch meal that meets USDA meal guidelines. Hot dogs are on the menu for today!

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Updated Spectator Guidelines: January 8, 2021

Last night, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds updated her Public Health Disaster Proclamation, which included modifications to the spectator guidelines for high school sports.

Social distancing requirements are still in place at high school events. Based on the latest update to the proclamation, the following spectator guidelines will be in place for district events effective immediately:

  • Admission will still be limited based on available capacity, with students and families of participants receiving priority.
  • There will be NO general admission tickets available to the general public.
  • All spectators MUST have an approved wristband to acquire admission to the event.
  • Masks are REQUIRED to be worn by spectators at all times
  • All spectators should practice appropriate social distancing and abide by posted signage and directions from event staff.
  • Individuals are asked to stay home if:
    • Exhibiting any symptoms of illness or have a temperature of 100.4 or above.
    • Awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past ten (10) days or have been a close contact to someone who has COVID-19 in the past ten (10) days.

Thank you for your continued support of our students as we work to keep our extracurricular activities as safe as possible!

Obtait in Rool-nan-Katak: Jan. 7

Iakwe nan baamle ko an Dubuque Schools,

Jota in juje eo ilo Educational Programs Committee an School Board, Obtait in Rool-nan-Katak kon melele ko ikijeen ewāwein im knaat bunton ko an korool rijikuul in hybrid nan fully in-person emaron bok jikin.

Elukun aurok nan jola ke ejanin wor alikar kon kōm̧akūt in, ejelok jejet in knaat eo, im ejanin wor alikar in bebe kain.

Ne ewor naan kwoj ron nu ial kon menin, rej jab mol.

Ijelokin wot, kweilok eo ej nan bebe im etale bunton in kamakut tok jikuul nan fully in-person, im lale jot data ko ikijeen keej in COVID iloan tijtrik in ilo jikuul io in, bareinwot jot melele ko ikijeen katak im progress ko an hybrid ien in jen io eo lak.

Kweilok ne ilo Mandre, Jan.11, Board eo enaaj wonmanlok kon lomnak im bebe ko-im, enwot juon public school district, melele ko renaaj bok jikier ilo kweilok ne an publik board. Mokta jen kweilok ne Mande, kom naaj wonmanlok im kakobabaiki tok data ko nan kenono kaki.

Alooje kweilok ne ilo channel 117.6 ak 16 an Mediacom, im zoom link eo nan alooje kweilok ne enaaj walok ilo webpaij e an tijtrik ilo jemlok in wiik.

Mene emaron ak emaron ejelok makitkit ko etobrak ilo kweilok ne nan komani bunton ko elik, botaab elukun aurok nan kenono kaki.

Ewor lomnak im melele ko kon rool nan katak fully in-person im ilo ad reimaanlak , elukun aurok nan kenono kaki lomnak kein nan ad maron kelet lomnak ko reman im jejet im m̧aanjāppopo jekron knaat im ien eo emaron.

Kommol kon support ko am nan rijikuul ro nejid ilo io in aban im ben.

Ilo kautiej,
Stan Rheingans
Superintendent an Jikuul ko

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Return-to-Learn Update: Jan. 7

Dear Dubuque Schools Families,

On Tuesday night at the Educational Programs Committee of the School Board, the Return-to-Learn Update included some discussion about how and when a return of hybrid students to fully in-person instruction may be possible.

Most important to note is that there were no recommendations of when such a move would occur, no specific timeframes outlined, and no decisions made.

If you hear rumors to the contrary, they are untrue.

Instead, the meeting included discussion of the many factors and considerations involved in making a move to fully in-person instruction, and a look at some additional data such as the active cases of COVID in the district over the course of the school year, as well as some very preliminary information about the academic progression of our hybrid students compared to last year.

At its meeting on Monday, Jan. 11, the Board will continue its discussion — and, as a public school district, that conversation will occur during a public Board meeting. In advance of Monday’s meeting, we also continue to collect additional data to aid the discussion.

This meeting will be broadcast on Mediacom Channel 117.6 or 16, and view the Zoom link on the School Board webpage

There may or may not be action taken at the meeting regarding next steps, however it is important that the conversation occurs.

There are many perspectives and opinions regarding when to move back to fully in-person learning and as we look into the future, it is important for us to have these discussions so that we can take the many considerations before us into account and be fully prepared for a move whenever it is possible.

Thankful for your continued support of our students during this challenging year.

Stan Rheingans
Superintendent of Schools

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Dubuque Community School District Launches VERTEX Career and College Readiness Initiative

The Dubuque Community School District is pleased to announce the launch of VERTEX, a career and college readiness initiative that represents the district’s strategic and intentional work to help students discover where their interests and future possibilities intersect – all with the goal of helping them reach the highest point of their individual journey to success.

This program creates a new umbrella that unites various offerings across the district while also boosting the workforce pipeline with well-prepared, enthusiastic leaders of tomorrow. It also provides students with meaningful workplace awareness, exploration and hands-on work experiences as they prepare to make informed decisions about their future.

“As a school district, it is among our most important responsibilities to help students see the possibilities that exist for them after graduation and prepare them with the tools necessary to achieve their desired success,” said Stan Rheingans, superintendent of the Dubuque Community School District. “VERTEX represents the district’s strategic work to provide a comprehensive career and college readiness program for students.”

VERTEX is designed around a core principle that career and college readiness is about more than just one experience. In the Dubuque Community Schools, the process begins in middle school and continues through high school while providing experiences that get progressively deeper over time, moving through three key areas of awareness, exploration and application.

View the VERTEX Initiative webpage

“Regardless of their skills or interests, we are committed to helping students connect their classroom learning to potential post-high school options,” said David Moeller, the educational support leader in the district coordinating the VERTEX effort. “This includes everything from exploration activities, assistance in course selection and hands-on learning, both in the district and through meaningful experiences available in partnership with area businesses.”

VERTEX Program, gears leading from awareness to exploration to application.

Recognizing that the diverse workforce of tomorrow is sitting in area classrooms today, a key component of VERTEX also aims to provide hands-on experiences for students in partnership with a host of area organizations and businesses. Throughout the development of the initiative, an advisory group including Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, Northeast Iowa Community College, Dubuque Area Labor-Management Council and the City of Dubuque provided valuable community context to the program’s development and continues to support outreach to area businesses.

“Quality career education is vital for Greater Dubuque area employers to ensure a pipeline of talent into the future,” said Anna Roling, director of workforce solutions for Greater Dubuque Development Corporation. “Greater Dubuque Development is pleased to support the Vertex Initiative by supporting area businesses in connecting with students for job shadows, career information, internships and work opportunities.”

Moving forward, VERTEX will lead to enhanced experiences for students, including job shadowing, mentorship programs, service learning and internship/work experience programs. These experiences will be supported by strong academic opportunities across the curriculum, including everything from career technical education and Advancement Placement courses to concurrent enrollment courses at area higher education institutions, that will help prepare students for life after high school.

VERTEX will also support and more deeply align a variety of current programs that connect students with employers in real-world work experiences including: Work-Based Learning Program, School-to-Work Program, Summit Program, Transition Alliance Program (TAP), Housing Education and Rehabilitation Training (HEART) Program, and Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG).

“The launch of VERTEX is really a beginning,” said Rheingans. “The real power of this initiative will be in its ability to more deeply engage students uncovering all that’s possible for them while connecting them to the tremendous outside-the-classroom experiences, and potentially their future employer, that exist right here in Dubuque.”

Businesses or organizations requesting more information about how to be part of Vertex Initiative Programs can contact David Moeller, instructional support leader, at or 563/552-3082.