DMPS Coronavirus Closure FAQ
Q: Why is Des Moines Public Schools working to move to online and distance learning for the remainder of the school year?
A: Almost every state in the country has ordered all schools closed for a period of time, while thirteen states have ordered all schools closed through the end of the academic year, and four have closed schools until further notice.
World and federal health experts have indicated the Coronavirus outbreak will get worse before it gets better and have warned against inaction. In response, some of America’s largest companies, sports associations and convention organizers have recognized community spread is a significant threat to public health. On April 3, the Iowa Board of Medicine unanimously called for a shelter-in-place order.
Iowa’s universities and colleges, both public and private moved their classes online, as other well-known universities around the country did the same. Iowa’s largest faith-based organization, Lutheran Church of Hope, canceled in-person services and moved everything online, and several large metro employers have asked their employees to work from home. The state has also ordered a number of businesses to close, and limited food service businesses to takeout, carryout and delivery only.
As testing becomes available to all citizens, and not just those who have traveled to specific countries, identification of cases is expected to rise exponentially. Studies and U.S. history have shown social distancing, including school closures, can have a positive impact on the outcome of a disease outbreak if it is initiated early enough.
Q: How does a parent or guardian pick up their child’s medications or medical supplies from the school nurse’s office during the current school closing?
A: The parent or guardian emails the building nurse or building administrator (see website for emails) to set up a time for pick-up.
Q: How will children who depend on schools for food receive meals during the closure?
A: DMPS food and nutrition staff will offer grab-and-go meals, both lunch and breakfast for the following day at all DMPS middle school locations from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM weekdays beginning March 26 and continuing through the duration of the COVID-19 closure. On Fridays, staff will send home additional food for the weekend. See a list of locations and hours.
Q: What if I don’t need meals, but would like to donate to the effort?
A: The district needs assistance with providing meals for students over the weekend. If you would like to contribute toward that effort, please fill out this online donation form.
Checks may also be sent to:
DMPS Food and Nutrition
c/o Jessica Buchheit
2100 Fleur Dr.
Des Moines, IA 50321
Q: Why isn’t DMPS continuing to offer childcare while the district is closed?
A: The benefit of district closure is social distancing, which has been shown to slow the progression of disease and ultimately save lives. When we continue to congregate in schools, we defeat the purpose of the closure by potentially exposing students and staff to Coronavirus. We realize there is a real hardship for many families who need childcare. We have a team actively working with city government and other entities to try and find ways to support families.
Q: How do I talk to my children about COVID-19?
A: The DMPS Counseling Staff has put together a letter offering guidance about how to talk to children about Coronavirus. Read their advice here.
Q: What is the district doing during the closure?
A: The district has convened a core leadership team to meet daily to be updated on COVID-19, engage or interact with Polk County Public Health, Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control for the latest guidance, and plan for a system of supports for students, staff and families. The team will be reaching out to community stakeholders for collaboration during this unprecedented time.
Also, our buildings will be undergoing deep cleaning during the closure, above and beyond the traditional cleaning we practice everyday during flu season. This will include limited staff access to buildings while disinfecting is underway.
Q: When can I expect to hear more about what’s going on in the district?
A: The district is planning daily updates with families on weekdays, and on weekends as necessary. Visit the district’s website dmschools.org/coronavirus for the latest information.