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COVID-19

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Mask Update: May 20, 2021

The district learned early today that shortly after midnight, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation into law that prohibits school districts from requiring masks to be worn at school.

The new law took effect immediately upon signing. Therefore, the district cannot require masks and they will be optional at school beginning TODAY, Thursday, May 20, rather than beginning on Friday as we planned.

We apologize for this early message, but felt that it was important to let families and staff know of this change prior to the start of the school day.

STUDENTS RIDING THE BUS MUST CONTINUE TO WEAR MASKS ON BOARD in accordance with an official CDC Order requiring masks on public transportation.

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Mask Update: May 19, 2021

Dear Families,

I am writing today to share that beginning Friday, May 21, masks will be optional in the Dubuque Community School District.

Today, we learned that the Iowa Legislature is moving forward with legislation that would prohibit school districts from requiring facial coverings to be worn, unless otherwise required by law to do so. Based on input from our state association, this legislation is expected to pass both state houses today and then move to the Governor for signature. It will become law immediately upon the Governor’s signature, which we expect in the next few days.

The legislation comes in conjunction with updated guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health that was released last week recommending that mask wearing be optional, as well as the county and city both moving forward with rescinding their mask ordinances.

FOR STUDENTS RIDING SCHOOL BUSES, masks will still be required while on board in accordance with an official CDC Order requiring masks on all public transportation, including school buses.

The IDPH guidance also includes updated quarantine guidelines as follows:

“…while COVID-19 positive and symptomatic children should be excluded, exposed children should no longer be required to stay home, regardless of mask usage. Moreover, when there is a positive case, parents should be given information around exposure to COVID-19 in order to make their own informed decisions regarding risk.”

Given this, the district will continue to contact trace when a student is in close contact (within six feet for 15 minutes or more) to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Parents/guardians will be notified of that exposure and it will be at the parent/guardian’s discretion as to whether or not to quarantine their student.

As we enter the final weeks of an unprecedented school year, we are thankful for the tremendous support and flexibility shown by our students, staff and families this year. Our success has been possible because of everyone’s willingness to work together.

I wish you well in these final few weeks of the school year!

Sincerely,
Stan Rheingans
Superintendent of Schools

2021 Graduation Update

Dear Parents/Guardians of the Class of 2021,

In just a few short months, your student in the Class of 2021 will walk across the stage to receive their Dubuque Community School District diploma – proudly becoming a graduate of Dubuque Senior High School or Hempstead High School.

While we continue to move closer to normal, we will again make adjustments to this year’s graduation ceremony to ensure that we are providing a safe environment for our students and their families.

  • The most significant change is that the ceremony will be held outdoors at Dalzell Field in order to provide additional capacity while also allowing for appropriate physical distancing.
  • As scheduled, graduation will be held on Saturday, May 29, and we will use Sunday, May 30, as a rain date should weather present an issue on Saturday.
  • Dubuque Senior High School’s ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. and Hempstead High School’s ceremony will be held at 3 p.m.
  • Based on the capacity of Dalzell Field, each graduate may receive up to eight (8) tickets. WATCH YOUR EMAIL IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS FOR TICKET RESERVATION DETAILS.
  • We will again livestream the graduation ceremonies for family and friends who are unable to attend the ceremony in person.

Additional details about logistics, safety protocols and ticketing will be shared as our graduation planning continues.

We are excited to be able to hold an in-person celebration of the Class of 2021. Best wishes as your student completes the remainder of their senior year!

Sincerely,
Stan Rheingans
Superintendent of Schools

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Weather-Related Virtual Learning Days

Dear Dubuque Schools Families,

As I’m sure you know, with the three snow days we have had to date, the last day of school is currently scheduled for Friday, June 4.

Moving the school year into the next week has the potential to create significant community impact including summer programming by community partners, staff taking additional courses at area colleges, planned vacations, etc.

FOR THIS YEAR ONLY, the State of Iowa has granted schools permission to hold virtual learning days for inclement weather while allowing those days to count toward the district’s instructional time requirement.

There are no current weather forecasts that indicate an upcoming weather event, but we want to be proactive about our next steps should we encounter another one during this school year.

Moving forward, if weather impacts our in-person schedule, the district will transition to a virtual learning day rather than a closure. This day will count as a school day and participation is expected.

Should a virtual day be required, instruction for in-person students will operate similar to the fully online week held following Thanksgiving:

  • elementary students will have a scheduled class Zoom as well as access to recorded core content area lessons and assigned work
  • secondary students will attend class periods via Zoom as scheduled

Fully online students will continue instruction as they do on a normal school day.

Schools will provide additional details and expectations for logging on and completing learning for the day.

While I hope we do not have to implement this weather plan, I’m confident that we are prepared to if necessary. As with all things, I continue to appreciate your ongoing flexibility as we move through this year.

Sincerely,
Stan Rheingans
Superintendent

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Grab N’ Go Meal Site Location and Time Change, Feb. 15

Beginning Monday, Feb. 15, the location and time for Grab n’ Go meal locations in the Dubuque Community School District will change as the district returns to primarily fully in-person learning.

No-cost meal service will be available at a Grab n’ Go meal site to all students in the fully online learning model, as well as any individual 18 or under (with no infant formula or food served), regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in a district school.

New location and time:

  • Dubuque Community School District Central Office / Forum (2300 Chaney Road, located in the rear parking lot): 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

All “Grab n’ Go” meal bags will consist of a breakfast meal and a lunch meal that meets USDA meal guidelines.

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Return-to-Learn FAQs and Selection Extension

As we prepare for the return to fully-in person instruction, we are hoping to answer some common questions from families to assist in making the choice of which learning model to select moving forward.

In order to provide the time to make an informed decision, we are EXTENDING the deadline for those wishing to change learning models until THURSDAY, FEB. 4.

REMINDER: 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 PLAN TO STAY IN THE LEARNING MODEL AS NOTED ABOVE, NO ADDITIONAL ACTION IS NECESSARY.

If you wish to make a change to your learning model, COMPLETE THE FORM IN PARENTSQUARE.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the return to fully in-person instruction.

VIEW THE COMPLETE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS PAGE ON OUR WEBSITE

How will social distancing work in school?

While social distancing in classrooms, lunchrooms, buses and other common spaces will be reduced with students returning to fully in-person learning, we are working to reconfigure and maximize our learning spaces to provide distancing to the extent possible.

What happens if an individual in a school exhibits symptoms, is awaiting test results, or tests positive for COVID-19?

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, Iowa Department of Public Health and Dubuque County Public Health Department:

  • Individuals with ANY high risk COVID-19 symptom or TWO OR MORE low risk COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and contact a healthcare provider.
    • If the individual receives an alternative diagnosis by a licensed medical healthcare provider, they will be asked to provide documentation of the diagnosis to the school.
    • If the individual does not receive an evaluation by a licensed medical healthcare provider, they will be instructed to self-isolate for 10 calendar days following the onset of symptoms.
  • Individuals who have been tested for COVID-19 should stay home while awaiting test results.
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be instructed to self-isolate for 10 calendar days following the onset of symptoms OR 10 calendar days from the date the positive test was administered if the individual is asymptomatic.

For more information, including the district’s COVID-19 Response Protocol and a guide to how the number of quarantine or isolation days are calculated, visit www.dbqschools.org/return-to-learn.

If there is a positive case at school, who will be notified and who will be required to quarantine for 10-days?

Per guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health:

  • Individuals who are exposed to a positive case with both parties wearing a face mask will be instructed to monitor for symptoms for 10 calendar days after last exposure to positive case. If symptoms develop within the 10 days, individuals should stay home and contact a healthcare provider. Parents/guardians will receive an email notification including the date of exposure and instructions on monitoring for symptoms.
  • Individuals who are exposed to a positive case with one or both parties not wearing a face mask will be instructed to self-quarantine at home for 10 calendar days after last exposure to positive case. Parents/guardians will receive a phone notification including the date of exposure and instructions on quarantining.

For more information, including the district’s COVID-19 Response Protocol and a guide to how the number of quarantine or isolation days are calculated, visit www.dbqschools.org/return-to-learn.

Will school bus transportation change from how it is currently operating in the hybrid model?

Yes. Social distancing will be most impacted depending on the number of students riding each day. All other mitigation strategies will remain in place, including:

  • All buses will be sanitized daily.
  • Students will be required to wear face masks while on the school bus.
  • Sanitizer will be available for students upon boarding.
  • Seats will be assigned.
  • Based on the recommendation of public health experts, windows will be down following the district’s temperature and weather guidelines to increase ventilation.

As always, families may choose to arrange their own transportation to and from school at any time.

How will meal service work?

Many of the protocols used during lunch in the hybrid model will continue to be in place when we transition to fully in-person learning, with a focus on maximizing our spaces to the extent possible.

  • Space for cafeteria lines will be maximized to allow for as much social distancing as possible.
  • The number of serving lines will be increased to reduce the number of students using each line, as needed.
  • Additional common spaces will be utilized for lunch to reduce the number of students in one area as possible, if needed.
  • Students will continue to wear masks in the serving lines and when not seated at their table.

In addition to these practices, seats in dining areas will be consistent from day to day. Seats will be assigned to ELEMENTARY and MIDDLE SCHOOL students, and self-selected by HIGH SCHOOL students.

  • Seating in dining areas will be structured in a way that maximizes social distancing, and seating at tables will be limited as follows:
    • A maximum of six (6) students at a 12-foot rectangular tablE
    • A maximum of five (5) students at a 10-foot rectangular table
    • A maximum of four (4) students at a round table.

My child already knows their teacher, will that change?

Students moving from the fully online model to the fully in-person model will be assigned a teacher at their home school. While our goal is to maintain consistency in teacher assignments for both learning models, there may be some students who are reassigned teachers as part of our efforts to reduce class sizes and maintain social distancing to the extent possible.

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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.

SAFETY MEASURES

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.

LEARNING OPTIONS

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 PLAN TO STAY IN THE LEARNING MODEL AS NOTED ABOVE, NO ADDITIONAL ACTION IS NECESSARY.

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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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!

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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.

Sincerely,
Stan Rheingans
Superintendent of Schools

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No-Cost Meal Sites from December 28-30

12/29 UPDATE: Due to the incoming winter storm, there will be NO in-person pick-up on Wednesday, Dec. 30.

Instead, all meal sites will serve meals today for both Tuesday, Dec. 29, and Wednesday, Dec. 30. 

There will be no meal service on Thursday, Dec. 31, or Friday, Jan. 1.

The Dubuque Community School District will provide NO-COST meals for anyone 18 or under (no infant formula will be provided) from Monday, Dec. 28, through Wednesday, Dec. 30.

All Grab n’ Go meal bags will consist of a breakfast meal and lunch meal that meets USDA meal guidelines.

LOCATIONS AND TIMES

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