March 16 – Four Week Closure Announcement
Dear DMPS families,
With last night’s recommendation by Governor Kim Reynolds that Iowa K-12 schools close for the next four weeks, I am extending the originally announced closure with the hope to re-open schools on Monday, April 13.
Last week, DMPS announced it was putting all programs, activities and classes on hold until at least Monday, March 30. Our team is now working on plans for the additional closure time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State of Iowa has come to the same conclusion we have already reached – closing schools is necessary to slowing the spread of Coronavirus. While our school district had a head start in planning for this, we are working hard on a wide range of issues. DMPS will continue to monitor conditions in the community in order to be responsive, and our Coronavirus response team is meeting daily to make sure we have the right supports in place for our students, families and staff.
This is a challenging time for all of us, but we are resilient, and we will navigate this together.
We will have additional updates in the days ahead as our school district leadership team works to determine additional steps. This is day one of an unusual time for us all and, as Superintendent, my goal is to provide our families and staff with the most accurate information we can.
Dr. Thomas Ahart
Additional information will be shared as soon as it is available, but at this time DMPS can announce the following about the current closure:
SCHOOL CALENDAR/LAST DAY OF SCHOOL
DMPS is waiting for guidance from the State of Iowa on what, if any, changes will be made the requirements for the length of the school year. At this time, school districts are not able to confirm when the last day of the 2019-20 school year will be held.
With nearly three-fourths of DMPS students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals, access to food is an important issue when school is not in session.
- DMPS received a waiver so the district can begin implementing our summer food program to provide meals for students. Details on that process will be announced as soon as possible.
- In the interim, the Food Bank of Iowa and Des Moines Area Religious Council will have food distribution sites at DMPS schools beginning tomorrow and continuing until next Wednesday, March 25.
- DMPS will offer grab-and-go meals for any students from all middle school sites on March 26 and 27, between 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM.
DMPS is exploring online resources and options for remote student learning. Further details will be announced at a later time.
ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
- The Iowa High School Athletic Association, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, Iowa High School Music Association, and Iowa High School Speech Association have suspended all high school spring activities until at least April 13.
- All athletic practices and competitions involving DMPS are canceled until at least April 13.
- All performing arts practices and events at DMPS are canceled until at least April 13.
- The status of large events after April 13 – including but not limited to school plays and concerts, proms, and graduation ceremonies – will be determined at a later date.
- DMPS will not engage during this time with any Iowa school district that does not comply with the recommended four-week closure.
ADDITIONAL CHANGES DUE TO CLOSURE
The following additional changes are being implemented:
- Metro Kids care will not be offered.
- All parent/teacher conferences are canceled.
- Programs housed at DMPS schools, such as the Boys and Girls Club, will not be open.
- Rental of DMPS space by outside organizations is canceled.
- The Welcome Center, which enrolls and registers students, will be closed.
- Teachers and staff, with the exception of staff designated by district administration, will not be allowed into school buildings.
- Additional changes may be implemented after March 30 and will be announced at a future date.
ADDITIONAL PREVENTIVE STEPS
DMPS is also taking the following steps during this in response to Coronavirus:
- 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 the system of supports for students and staff and families.
- During this time, DMPS operations staff will do deep cleaning of all school buildings, above and beyond the additional cleaning that has already been in place.
- Of the district’s school nurses, 12 work on a part-time basis; they will be full-time for the foreseeable future.