To the Vinton-Shellsburg School Community from Superintendent Kyle Koeppen:
Welcome to May! May is a time of reflection and celebration in schools. We are recognizing the hard work and accomplishments of our seniors at graduation. We are celebrating the growth and success of our students in the classroom and this year we are celebrating the fact we have made it to the last month of school without having to close or miss time due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
This year has looked much different than previous years with all of the mitigation strategies in place. Students were cohorted and did not mix groups for lessons or celebrations. There were changes at all the buildings which included class schedules, extending lunch times, modifying recess, adjusting passing times, extra time spent cleaning in between classes/sessions, staff meeting by zoom, etc., all in effort to keep the virus at bay. Staff, students and our community put in extra work to make this school year a success!
As we look forward to next school year, I do not know for sure what public health will be recommending for mitigation strategies in schools, but I think new guidance will continue to be given throughout the spring/summer months and we as a school district will continue to find ways to return to collaborative practices. Returning to instructional practices such as allowing students to move between cohorts for classes and interventions is a priority. We feel we can more effectively meet the needs of students when being flexible with their groupings throughout the day.
The state of Iowa and the federal government have been working to give support to schools since the pandemic began. The state allocated funds at the start of the school year and we utilized the money to purchase more ipads at the elementary level. The school district has been allocated federal funds to support students from the learning gap created by the pandemic shutdown and pay for current and future mitigation from viruses. The most recent allocation was 1.6 million dollars. This is a one time funding increase and will not be supported in the future. We have identified a need for additional support for students based on our assessments throughout the year. Hiring additional support teachers for a period of time (two years), and identifying new curricular materials will be a starting point for next school year. We will also look into ventilation systems in our buildings to improve air quality for virus mitigation.
Summer school is also a way to address the learning gap from the school closure last school year. The Vinton-Shellsburg schools will be offering programming to target learning needs and gaps of instruction for students. We will also be utilizing our federal support dollars to fund our summer school experience. Along with summer school support, our free breakfast and lunch program will continue throughout the summer months.
If you have any thoughts or questions to share please reach out to me. You may contact me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 319-436-5685.