Janelle Brouwer

Superintendent, MISD

Marion Independent School District

2021/2022 School Year

August 13, 2021


Dear MISD Families,

The excitement is building as district staff prepare to kick off the 2021-22 school year.

A few informational highlights:

Registration & Fee Pay: Online registration remains open and is required for all new and returning families. Please complete registration and fee payment prior to the first day of school. Contact your child’s building office to set an appointment if you need assistance.


Free/Reduced Lunch & Fees: All reimbursable breakfasts AND lunches are free for 2021-2022 school year through a waiver from the USDA. Each student will have the ability to receive both breakfast and lunch for the 2021-22 school year free of charge. A reimbursable meal includes the menu items on the school lunch menu. If your student elects to grab an extra entrée, only a portion of the school meal, purchase extra milk, or purchase items in the ALA Carte line your student will be charged for those items. While meals are free this year, school fees are still being charged. Free and Reduced applications are still being accepted. If you haven't already and you believe your family may qualify for free and reduced fees, please fill out the application which can be accessed by clicking the link HERE. If you have already submitted an application you do not need to resubmit. If your financial situation changes, you can submit the application anytime during the school year.


First Day of School: August 25, 2021 (2 hour early out)

COVID-Related Protocols: We will start the year with ‘normal’ protocols in place: daily cleaning efforts; healthy habits of handwashing, covering coughs/sneezes; and staying home when ill. We will not begin with protocols in place for increased distancing or cohort grouping. However, we will continue to monitor positive student and staff cases of COVID on a weekly basis, reimplementing mitigation strategies such as increased distancing and cohort grouping if necessary. At MISD, aligned to HF 847 signed by Governor Reynolds May 20, 2021, masks or cloth face coverings are an individual family decision. We expect students and staff to respect each individual families’ choice, following the Marion Way (respect, responsibility, safety, integrity). Volunteers will be allowed again, as well as visitors to the main office or meetings regarding your child. See the link below to our Return to Learn Guidebook for more details.

Facilities/Bond Update: The summer continued a busy planning schedule for 3 of our 4 bond-related construction projects. The Outdoor Activities Complex at the Marion High School campus will be under construction during the upcoming school year, kicking off likely in October. The 2021-22 football and track seasons will be held this year at the Thomas Park Field location. Both the FMI renovation and the new elementary school projects continue in the planning stages, with construction anticipated to begin in the Summer of 2022, continuing throughout the 2022-23 school year. The auditorium project planning will begin after the other projects are underway. Each of these projects will be wonderful additions/upgrades for MISD. Yet it will be important to keep in mind that construction itself is NOT fun, there will be some growing pains, flexibility and patience will be essential through this process, and the end results will be worth it all!


Marion Wolves: We start the new year as the Marion Wolves. This is an exciting opportunity for our student body to celebrate a new mascot. The costume design is underway, with the new mascot costume unveiled for Homecoming 2021. The Marion Athletic Booster Club has been working on Marion Wolves gear. More information will be coming next week for those interested in placing an order.


The Marion Athletic Booster Club (MABC) store is now open for those interested in placing an order for Wolves gear. The online order form is accessible at the following link: https://stores.teamelitesports.com/marion_booster_club The store closes Aug. 29 and items will be available for pick up at the MHS office Sep. 17.


Building cleaning and maintenance, bus routing, class lists and student schedule preparation, and professional learning for staff are all in progress. It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of planning and preparing, in the ‘details’. But as a district, we always want to remain focused on our primary mission to ‘Foster a community of learners in developing the knowledge and skills to be Future Ready’. Our purpose as an organization is to support each student in their learning journey as they grow in their academic, social, emotional, and behavioral development. This includes successfully partnering with families. We recognize that you know your child best. Thank you for your partnership and for your trust in allowing us to support your child(ren) in this journey!

Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

Go Wolves!


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Marion Independent School District

2020/2021 School Year


May 21, 2021

Dear MISD Families,

I wanted to express my sincere apologies for the change yesterday in mask requirements given the law that went into effect overnight, with no opportunity for many to talk with your child(ren) about the change and about your wishes. Staff worked quickly to make announcements over the intercom as well as to follow with classroom and individual conversations regarding respecting each individual’s choice. We are talking with our students about the ‘Marion Way’- showing respect, responsibility, safety, and integrity as each individual and family makes their choice with regard to masks. Throughout this year, we have maintained a priority on health and safety. This includes the social-emotional health and well-being for students and staff. As we work through this transition, we appreciate your help in talking with your child(ren) about the choice you and your family would like to make as well as to respect others who may make different choices.

Masks are optional at all district sites and activities. This includes activities during the school day and after-school events. Respect for one another is essential and expected.

Additionally, the change in mask guidance has had an impact on student attendance and requests to transition to online learning. Change causes a variety of reactions in individuals. This year has been filled with ongoing changes and challenges, which have taken a toll on many students, staff, and families in a variety of ways. Although, as a district, we place a tremendously high priority on student learning, we also equally place a priority on social-emotional well being. It is with this in mind that the Board will consider an adjustment to the school calendar during the Monday, May 24 meeting. The proposed calendar revision is to move the last day of school with a 2 hour early out from June 11 to June 4, with the last day for preschool students moving from June 10 to June 3. With the ongoing challenges this year has presented, we are seeking to balance the academic needs and the social-emotional needs of our learners.

Highlights in bullet point:

  • Thank you to all for your continued flexibility, patience, and understanding this year!

  • Masks are an individual choice, respect is essential and expected, follow the Marion Way.

  • We are considering a calendar adjustment moving the last day to June 4 (June 3 for preschool). The final decision will be made Monday during the School Board meeting.

Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent


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May 20, 2021

MISD Families,

The House and Senate passed a bill yesterday, which was signed by Governor Reynolds early this morning, banning local entities to include school districts, from requiring face masks. Effective immediately, face masks will be optional.


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent


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May 18, 2021

MISD Families,

Over the past few days the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Linn County Public Health (IDPH) have issued separate and conflicting guidance regarding mask wearing in schools. Upon careful consideration of the varied guidance, given the short number of days remaining (17), and recognizing that most students are unvaccinated at this time, MISD will continue to require masks for the remainder of the school year (until June 11) for indoor events and activities. Masks will be optional for outdoor activities to include recess and extracurricular activities.

Beginning June 14, we will transition to optional masks for indoor and outdoor activities to include summer school programming, while monitoring our COVID data as we make this transition. Given the smaller student numbers during summer school, increased distancing is possible and better allows a safe transition and adjustment to our mitigation efforts.


We recognize this decision will make some happy and others unhappy. Providing a safe learning environment has been and continues to be a priority. Your continued understanding and patience is appreciated as we strive to best meet the needs of our students and families.


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

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April 27, 2021

Take a look at the district updates in the Spring 2021 District Newsletter.

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March 2, 2021

Thank you to all who voted in the bond election. The bond passed with 85% support!

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February 22, 2021

See below for the updated guidelines MISD will use for COVID quarantine.

Definition of Close Contact (regardless of mask use):

  • Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24 hour period, starting from 2 days before illness onset or testing.

  • Living in the same household as a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • Direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)

  • Being sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you from a COVID-19 infected individual.

Updated Quarantine Guidelines for Close Contact (Quarantine begins on the last day of contact with the infected individual. If living in the same household, and the close contact is not able to separate from the infected individual, the quarantine will begin after the infected individual has met the recovery criteria.):

  • If the close contact and the infected individual were both properly wearing a mask during the close contact, the close contact should monitor symptoms for 14 days but does not quarantine unless symptoms would develop.

  • If the close contact and/or the infected individual were not properly wearing a mask during the close contact, the close contact must quarantine and monitor symptoms for 10-14 days (see below).

    • Without a COVID-19 test: Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing AND if no symptoms have been experienced during daily monitoring. Resume normal activities on day 11. It is important for the close contact to continue with self-monitoring for symptoms AND with strict adherence of facial coverings until 14 days from the last date of contact with the infected individual has passed. This means a facial covering must be worn at all times during the school day other than when eating, which should be done in a location where the individual is at least 6’ from others. If this cannot be done feasibly, the individual would need to quarantine for the entire 14 days. If the close contact develops symptoms, begin the isolation procedures for individuals with confirmed OR suspected COVID.

If a close contact develops symptoms of COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19, he/she should isolate. Isolation is used to separate someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others, as outlined by the 3 criteria listed below. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available) until the following criteria is met:

No fever for at least 24 hours (without the use medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

other symptoms have improved (for example, when cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

For More information please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.html

If you have additional questions regarding a quarantine for your child feel free to contact Nancy Alderdyce, district nurse, or the building administrator for your child’s building. Thank you for your continued patience as we work through the changes in COVID-19 response.


Sincerely,


Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent


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December 17, 2020


MISD Families,


Last week I shared that our Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC) would provide recommendations to the MISD Board during the Dec.14 meeting. The Board unanimously endorsed the plan presented Monday night. Please take a look at the video linked here https://youtu.be/hirY1dizSbM to learn more.


Sincerely,


Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent


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December 10, 2020


MISD Families,


As has been the case throughout COVID, we continue to adjust to rules, regulations, and guidance. Last week we informed you of the new CDC and LCPH guidelines for quarantine. However, this week we were alerted that an early return involves not only masking at all times, but also maintaining 6' of social distancing through the remainder of the 14 day timeframe. Within the school setting, although we strive to increase distancing between students, it is not possible to ensure 6' of distancing throughout the day. Additionally, times such as lunch, recess, and snack times for elementary classrooms present an even greater challenge with the masking requirement and ensuring safe distancing. Although it remains our goal to have students in school, our priority is to do so safely for all involved. Given the concerns shared here, MISD will return to the required 14-day quarantine period for close contact exposure. I apologize for the inconvenience this may cause for some. Yet the health and safety of our students, staff, and community outweigh the short term inconvenience of the additional few days in this determination.


Thank you for your continued patience as we change and evolve through COVID.


Sincerely,


Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent


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December 9, 2020


MISD Families,


As I have shared in previous communications, MISD has been engaged in a facilities planning process over the past several months. Our Facilities Advisory Committee, in partnership with OPN Architects and Estes Construction, has made tremendous progress and plans to make recommendations during the December 14, 2020, 6pm Board meeting to the MISD Board of Education regarding short term and long range facilities priorities and next steps. The meeting will be accessible through Google Meet using the following url or phone number: Meeting ID meet.google.com/cdu-jxjk-dxk , phone (‪316) 778-8402‬ PIN: ‪229 044 879#‬ . This is an exciting time for MISD and a tremendous opportunity to ensure our students, staff, parents, and community members have facilities that support our district mission. We welcome your involvement to learn more!


As a reminder of some of the steps that have been taken thus far in preparation for the December 14th Board meeting, see below.


Our mission at MISD is to ‘Foster a community of learners in developing the knowledge and skills to be Future Ready’. While quality learning can and has taken place at home and online over the past several months, schools are about community, relationships, routines, and traditions. Students thrive in brick and mortar buildings. Striving for our mission involves face to face interactions as a community of learners.


In late March of 2020, the MISD Board of Education made the decision to enlist the help of architects who could help us build on the facility assessment done by Estes Construction, and work with the Marion community to gain a deeper understanding of our priorities and needs. After researching architecture firms who specialize in K-12 assessment, planning, referendum support, and design, the district solicited proposals, interviewed three firms, and ultimately selected OPN Architects to partner with the district on our Facilities Master Plan.


As a component of our work with OPN Architects and Estes Construction, the district established a Facilities Advisory Committee of about 40 individuals including parents, staff, community members, business owners, students, and school board members. This group was tasked with setting priorities that will shape a long range timeline that balances needs and wants with available funding. Ultimately, the goal has been to identify a plan to present to the Board that the committee agrees will best meet the needs of our students, staff, and community into the future.


In an effort to be transparent in this process and to include as many voices as possible, OPN Architects conducted listening sessions and surveys with staff in May and June 2020 to hear their perspectives regarding facilities needs. Additionally, in lieu of face to face tours during COVID, OPN developed a virtual tour of the facilities and a community survey regarding needs and priorities. The Facilities Advisory Committee engaged in a review of all of this information as well as data such as enrollment trends and school finances in their efforts to determine the short term (2-5 year) and long range (7-10 year) facility priorities, which they will recommend to the MISD Board.


If you have additional questions or comments feel free to contact me by email at jbrouwer@marion-isd.org or by phone at (319) 377-4691 Ext 1103.


Sincerely,


Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent


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December 4, 2020


Dear MISD Families,

This week the CDC announced changes to the quarantine guidelines for those identified as close contact to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. Linn County Public Health is following the new guidance. This does not apply to those diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19. Effective immediately MISD will implement the updated LCPH updated guidance below for newly identified close contacts as well as those currently in quarantine due to being identified recently as a close contact. The definition of close contact has not changed in this recent update and is also listed below.

Definition of Close Contact (regardless of mask use):

  • Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24 hour period, starting from 2 days before illness onset or testing.

  • Living in the same household as a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • Direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)

  • Being sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you from a COVID-19 infected individual.

Updated Quarantine Guidelines for Close Contact (Quarantine begins on the last day of contact with the infected individual. If living in the same household, and the close contact is not able to separate from the infected individual, the quarantine will begin after the infected individual has met the recovery criteria.):

  • Without a COVID-19 test: Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing AND if no symptoms have been experienced during daily monitoring. Resume normal activities on day 11. It is important for the close contact to continue with self-monitoring for symptoms AND with strict adherence of facial coverings until 14 days from the last date of contact with the infected individual has passed. This means a facial covering must be worn at all times during the school day other than when eating, which should be done in a location where the individual is at least 6’ from others. If this cannot be done feasibly, the individual would need to quarantine for the entire 14 days. If the close contact develops symptoms, begin the isolation procedures for individuals with confirmed OR suspected COVID.

  • With a negative COVID-19 test: Quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen (antigen or PCR) test is negative AND if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen should be collected and tested 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7. The earliest time for testing will be at day 5 from last contact with the infected case. The close contact must remain in quarantine until a negative test result has been obtained AND 7 days of quarantine have been completed. Resume normal activities on day 8. For return to school, MISD will require proof of the negative test result within the appropriate time frame indicated above (at or after day 5). It is important for the close contact to continue with self-monitoring for symptoms AND with strict adherence of facial coverings until 14 days from the last date of contact with the infected individual has passed. This means a facial covering must be worn at all times during the school day other than when eating, which should be done in a location where the individual is at least 6’ from others. If this cannot be done feasibly, the individual would need to quarantine for the entire 14 days. If the close contact develops symptoms, begin the isolation procedures for individuals with confirmed OR suspected COVID-19.

If a close contact develops symptoms of COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19, he/she should isolate. Isolation is used to separate someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others, as outlined by the 3 criteria listed below. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available) until the following criteria is met:

No fever for at least 24 hours (without the use medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

other symptoms have improved (for example, when cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

For More information please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.html

If you have additional questions regarding a quarantine for your child feel free to contact Nancy Alderdyce, district nurse, or the building administrator for your child’s building. Thank you for your continued patience as we work through the changes in COVID-19 response.

Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent


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November 24, 2020

I am so thankful for the MISD students, staff, parents, and community. Nearly 6 years ago I came to MISD excited by the new job opportunity. The past 6 years have offered tremendous opportunities to grow and learn as a professional, including a move last year into the role of Superintendent. The job brought me to MISD, but the people keep me at MISD. It remains an honor and a privilege to serve this district! I wish each of you a safe, healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

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November 17, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

The positivity rate for COVID-19 in Linn County continues to be high, and MISD continues to experience an increase in absences for students and staff due to COVID-19, other illness, and quarantine. Although we certainly understand the challenge this will place on families, the health and safety for students and staff remain a priority. Given the continued increase in absences we are experiencing for students and staff we will be moving to a PK-12 hybrid A/B schedule beginning November 30 and continuing through January 15, 2021. This means that students will attend on-site 50% of the time and learn from home the other 50%. For MS and HS students, please note the adjustment to the A/B schedule for Nov. 30-Dec. 4 from what was previously shared.

Thank you for your continued patience, flexibility, and support in this challenging time. I wish each of you a safe and healthy Thanksgiving! Take care of yourselves and of one another in this holiday season.


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

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November 12, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

Linn County Public Health issued new guidance for close contact, which is aligned to the CDC guidance. MISD follows the LCPH guidance with regard to COVID-19 close contacts. Effective Monday, November 16, MISD will implement the LCPH updated guidance below. This change will have an impact on the number of individuals identified as close contact as well as the number of individuals needing to quarantine in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.

Close contact is defined as:

  • Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24 hour period, starting from 2 days before illness onset or testing.

  • Living in the same household as a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • Direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)

  • Being sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you from a COVID-19 infected individual.

Close contact includes all of the above, regardless of mask use.

Close contacts will be expected to quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their local health department.

If a close contact develops symptoms of COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19, he/she should isolate. Isolation is used to separate someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available) until the following criteria is met:

No fever for at least 24 hours (without the use medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

other symptoms have improved (for example, when cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

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November 11, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

Given the continued increase in COVID-19 cases and quarantine we are experiencing at the secondary level, like Marion High School, Vernon Middle School will return to a hybrid A/B schedule beginning Friday, November 13 through December 4, 2020. At this time our elementary students (PK-4) will continue to attend daily. We continue to monitor absences at each building in addition to the Linn County 14-day rolling positivity rate.

Thank you for your flexibility and understanding in this challenging time.


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

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November 9, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

As we continue to monitor COVID-19 within our district and within Linn County, we will be making 2 adjustments beginning tomorrow, November 10, 2020. The first change is that students and staff will be required to wear a face mask or 2-layer gaiter (single layer gaiters and face shields will not be sufficient). Additionally, given the number of positive student cases of COVID and number of students in quarantine that continued to rise over the weekend and today, Marion High School will return to a hybrid A/B schedule until December 4, 2020. We will continue to monitor other buildings as well, and keep you informed of any necessary changes. Thank you for your support of the mitigation efforts.


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

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November 6, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

As you are likely aware, the 14 day average positivity rate within Linn County has risen over the last few weeks, and is currently above 15%. The average positivity rate is only one of the criteria that must be used in determining whether a district can apply for a waiver from the Iowa Department of Education to move from on-site to on-line learning for a 2-week timeframe. In addition to the positivity rate, the other factor is an absentee rate above 10%.

We want to make sure you are aware that when the positivity rate within Linn County rises above 15%, this does not automatically mean that MISD will apply for a waiver to move to online instruction. As of this week, we have 11 positive cases of COVID-19 reported for students (out of 1866 students who attend on-site) and 8 positive cases for staff (out of 376 total staff members), which we track weekly on our COVID dashboard. Student absentee rate over the past week, including those in quarantine due to close-contact exposure to COVID, was just under 8.5%. To date, the majority of positive cases have been non-related to the school day.

In the upcoming weeks we will continue to closely monitor county positivity rates along with student and staff absentee rates, number of positive cases reported for students and staff, as well as number in quarantine. If rates continue to increase but absences remain below the 10% threshold, we may consider moving a building or grade levels to a hybrid model based on individual building absences. At this time our highest rates of absenteeism, and locations where a hybrid may be considered, would be Marion High School and Vernon Middle School.

It is important to note that individuals who are identified as close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19, but both the individual who is COVID positive and the individual in close contact are properly wearing a face mask or a 2-layer gaiter, the individual identified as a close contact would not be required to quarantine. If one or both individuals are not properly wearing a face mask or 2-layer gaiter over the mouth and nose during exposure, the individual who is identified as a close contact would need to quarantine for 14 days from the last date of exposure.

We continue to evaluate the mitigation efforts in place. Your help in reminding your child of the importance of properly wearing a mask or a 2-layer gaiter over the mouth and nose, frequently washing hands, practicing social distancing, and staying home anytime he/she is not feeling well is essential in helping keep everyone as safe as possible. We would also encourage families to practice these strategies as well, as we all work together to limit the spread. Thank you for your partnership in this effort!


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

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October 13, 2020


The Board of Education for the Marion Independent School District Board, in a 5-2 vote Monday evening, made the decision to move away from the Indian mascot by July 31, 2021. Over the past several months the Board has engaged in a review process to include input from the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki Nation), a local historian and representative from the Marion Historical Society, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), representatives from the Ho-Chunk Nation, numerous letters and emails from individuals, and survey responses from Marion students, staff, alumni, and community members. Survey data indicated approximately 63% of respondents were in support of keeping the current mascot. Those who responded in support of continuing the mascot provided reasons to include the history and pride they feel, while some also noted they wished to have the mascot remain unless it was viewed as offensive. Responses in opposition to the Indian mascot expressed concern that the mascot was derogatory or disrespectful. In addition to the survey, the members of the Board also received a letter from the Meskwaki Nation in opposition to continued use of the Indian as a mascot or for branding of teams or schools. The Board also noted that one of the goals for the district is to 'establish and maintain a safe environment that supports the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of each learner' and that it is, therefore, important for each learner to feel valued and have a sense of belonging. This was a very difficult decision for the MISD Board as each member holds a great deal of pride in and respect for the students, staff, and greater Marion community.


In the upcoming weeks and months the district will determine next steps to identify a new mascot. No decisions have been made at this point, but the district will be seeking input from students, staff, and the community to help guide the decision making process.

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September 30, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) released new guidelines yesterday regarding when individuals should quarantine due to exposure to an individual with COVID-19. According to this update, if an individual is determined to be in close contact (less than 6 feet for 15 consecutive minutes) but both individuals are wearing a face mask appropriately the individual who is in close contact will not need to quarantine. The individual(s) identified as close contact will still need to monitor their health for any symptoms during the 14-day time period, and if symptoms develop the individual should self-isolate for 10 days from the date of symptom onset. Close contact with a family member in the same household would still require the 14-day quarantine. It is important to note that the guidance is specific to proper use of face mask worn over the mouth and nose. If individuals are wearing a face shield or neck gaiter, quarantine would still be required. MISD, in collaboration with Linn County Public Health (LCPH), will follow the updated guidelines. MISD will continue to notify individuals who are identified as being in close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19, however, quarantine will not be required.

The link to the updated guidelines from IDPH can be found at: https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/61/covid19/resources/WhenToQuarantine.pdf


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

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September 11, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

I wanted to extend a tremendous thank you to each of you for your patience and your support as we have worked to kick-off the 2020-2021 school year. On-site instruction began on Tuesday for Cohort A and Thursday for Cohort B. It was wonderful to see many smiling eyes heading back to school this week. Students and staff focused on learning new routines, getting to know one another, and getting reacquainted with life at school. Our MISD students are AMAZING, adjusting to the changes this year as they live the Marion Way (demonstrating respect, responsibility, integrity, and safety). I am encouraged by the level of commitment displayed by students, families, and staff to caring for one another!

Additionally, I wanted to share with you the dashboard (linked below) we will update weekly on our website regarding positive cases of COVID-19 for students and staff who were in attendance in the District. While protecting the privacy of students and staff, the Marion Independent School District is committed to maintaining transparent communication.

COVID-19 Information or at the following url: https://www.marion-isd.org/covid-19-information/


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

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July 29, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

Thank you to those of you who completed the survey last week regarding your anticipated plans for your child(ren) to return to on-site or online instruction. Based on the survey results thus far approximately 73% intend to return on-site, 14% will request remote/on-line instruction (Edgenuity or APEX), and 14% of students will have a blend of on-site and online (APEX) for their HS block schedule. By August 10 we will be asking parents to make a final determination regarding whether your child(ren) will be on-site or you will be enrolling your child(ren) in online instruction. For those choosing online instruction, you must complete the enrollment process accessible in the guidebook linked below in addition to the district online registration, for those choosing on-site nothing further will be needed beyond completion of the online registration.

As noted previously, we are providing an update to the Return to Learn Guidebook today, to include plan revisions and building-specific details. There are 2 important changes to specifically note.

  1. The first is in regards to face coverings. Although the guidance issued through the Iowa Department of Education on July 1st notes, “Requiring face coverings for all staff and students is not recommended,” the guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as well as the recent release of Return to Learn Guidance from Linn County Public Health (LCPH) both support face coverings as an important mitigation effort. Because safety and health are of primary concern in our decision making processes for students and for our MISD staff, we believe this is an important strategy to care for one another. Therefore, face coverings (cloth mask and/or face shield) will be required for all staff and students unless 6’ of social distancing can be practiced.

  2. Secondly, we plan to operate on a hybrid schedule for the first 2 weeks of school, using an A/B cohort model (see the guidebook linked below for specific details). This will allow students and staff to transition back to school in smaller group sizes as well as provide an opportunity for the district to closely monitor student and staff absences related to COVID-19. We intend to transition to full on-site learning for those planning to be on-site right after labor day, Sep. 8. However, if COVID-19 cases rise or there are high absentee rates for students and/or staff, we will work with the Iowa Department of Education (DE), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and LCPH to make adjustments to either continue the hybrid model or consider a transition to a remote continuous learning model for all students.

Below you may access MISD’s updated Return to Learn Guidebook, which outlines district and building-specific plans. The district and building plans will be reviewed with the Board of Education tomorrow, July 30 at 4:30pm. The Board has engaged in previous reviews during the regularly scheduled Board meetings on June 22 and July 13. Although the guidebook is intended to be the final release prior to the start of school, we will continue to make revisions throughout the year if needed based on ongoing guidance from the Iowa DE, the IDPH, LCPH, the CDC, and Governor Reynolds.

Please note that online registration is now open, accessible via the district website at https://www.marion-isd.org/main/enrollment/. Online registration is for ALL families, regardless of whether your child(ren) will attend on-site or online. All registration information and payment of fees are able to be completed online. If you require assistance with registration, please contact the school or district office. Additionally, on-site registration will be available, by appointment only, at each building site Aug. 7 from 12-6:00pm. If you require assistance in the form of on-site registration, please contact the building office by phone or email to schedule an appointment.


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

July 21, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

Last week we shared the current plans with regard to returning to school for the 2020-2021 school year. We continue to develop building-specific plans, which will be shared next week along with any revisions to our planning thus far. As was noted last week, we are planning for a return to on-site instruction to begin Aug. 24. We will provide an online, subscription-based option for families who choose this rather than on-site. The on-site delivery includes a variety of mitigation efforts, which can be found in more detail in the Return to Learn Guidebook linked below.

To help with our planning efforts, please take a few moments to respond to the survey linked below. You will be asked to provide responses for each child individually, as we understand that these decisions may differ for each child in a family based on a variety of factors. The answers you provide on the survey do not lock you into a decision for Aug. 24. Parents will be asked to make a final decision about plans for on-site or remote instructional delivery in early August.

Please complete the survey by July 27 using the following link: https://forms.gle/5rowCKXLaSwNwNuDA

Below you may access additional information regarding MISD’s Return to Learn, which was provided last week. These documents will continue to be revised as the Iowa Department of Education (DE), the Iowa Department of Public Health, Linn County Public Health, and Governor Reynolds provide ongoing updates.

Online registration will open by the end of this week, accessible via the district website at https://www.marion-isd.org/main/enrollment/. Online registration is for ALL families, regardless of whether your child(ren) will attend on-site or virtually. All registration information and payment of fees is able to be completed online. If you require assistance with registration, on-site registration will be available, by appointment only, at each building site Aug. 7 from 12-6:00pm. Please contact the building office by phone or email to schedule an appointment, if needed, for on-site registration.

Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

July 14, 2020

Dear MISD Families,

I want to extend a thank you to students and families for your understanding and patience as we work on planning for the 2020-2021 school year. This note is intended to provide you with an initial overview of some of the plans in place for the fall. More information will be coming in late July and again in early August as we continue to monitor health guidance and plan accordingly. Flexibility and responsiveness will be ongoing themes for the year, so thank you for understanding that much of our planning is scenario based and we will need to remain flexible and ready to transition between instructional delivery models this year. Additionally, it is important to note that, although precautions will be taken, we are not able to provide an environment entirely free from risk of exposure due to COVID-19. Health and safety for our students, staff, and community remains a priority, so your role in supporting the mitigation efforts is also imperative.

Thank you to families for your participation and input in the survey regarding the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Your feedback helped to guide our planning efforts for the upcoming year. Of those who responded, over 90% indicated that your child(ren) participated in continuous learning. With regard to barriers, the most common barriers included: lack of student motivation, lack of clarity in expectations, lack of access to a device. Of the respondents, 80% indicated feeling supported by MISD during closure (responses of 4 or 5 on a 5 point scale).

Given your input and guidance from the Iowa Department of Education as well as public health, MISD has plans in place for 3 possible models of instruction for the upcoming year: on-site, remote, and hybrid. Per Iowa Code, regardless of delivery model, learning will be required for all students in the upcoming year. It is our intent and hope to begin the year on-site, with mitigation efforts in place. However, we recognize that for health-related concerns some students may be unable to return to on-site learning and some families may not yet feel comfortable in sending your child(ren), regardless of the mitigation efforts in place, due to COVID-19 related concerns. We will be providing online programming in situations such as these where remote learning is necessary, and more details will be coming regarding this option in the upcoming weeks. Additionally, next week we will be sending a survey regarding whether you are intending to send your child(ren) for on-site or will be requesting online instructional delivery, although your initial decision on this does not need to be final yet next week. It is important to note that online programming will be focused on essential learning standards, will be provided by the district through a subscription based program, and will not mirror the on-site option. Additionally, for our high school students, we will be expanding access to online courses as an option for 1 or more courses for those with health needs or who have demonstrated prior success with online courses (i.e.- successful course completion during 4th quarter of 2019-2020, prior success with APEX courses).

Mitigation Strategies for 2020-2021 due to COVID-19 (for additional detail see links below):

  • Health screening: Daily health screenings are an essential part of prevention. Take your child(ren)’s temperature each morning. Students with a temperature above 100 or with symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath should remain at home. Additionally, students who are at school and are identified as having related symptoms will be required to be picked up from school to return home.

  • Transportation: During the 2020-2021 school year we would encourage students to walk or bike to school or have parents transport to the extent possible. Buses will not allow for social distancing, therefore masks will be recommended for all students riding a bus.

  • Health habits & prevention:

    • Frequent handwashing or use of hand sanitizer. Individual hand sanitizer for your child is encouraged

    • Face masks and/or face shields are recommended, especially on buses, for arrival/dismissal, during hallway transitions, or similar areas where group size is larger or social distancing of 6’ is not possible

    • Stay home if sick

    • Increased spacing to the extent possible

  • Building protocols:

    • Increased cleaning protocols

    • Limit cross-group interactions

    • Limit shared materials

    • Directional hallways or increased hallway spacing (no locker use where hallways require increased space)

    • No use of water fountains other than bottle-refilling stations. Please plan to send a water bottle with your child.

    • Field trips will be limited to virtual opportunities

  • Parents/community:

    • Parent meetings will be held virtually to the extent possible

    • Volunteers/visitors will be limited to virtual participation (read to your child’s class via Zoom for example)

    • Student drop off/pick-up outside of the building, parents should not enter the building

We understand that having your child unable to attend school presents challenges for families. Although we understand the difficulties this year may pose for families, we appreciate your support and cooperation in considering alternative arrangements that you will put in place if your child needs to remain home due to illness as well as if school would need to close for a period of time as directed due to COVID-19.

Linked below you may access additional information regarding MISD’s Return to Learn. Please keep in mind that these documents will continue to be updated as the Iowa Department of Education (DE), the Iowa Department of Public Health, Linn County Public Health, and Governor Reynolds provide ongoing updates.

Additional reminders:

  • Online registration will begin in late July, with more information coming. The registration process will be able to be completed entirely online. However, we will also have a face to face option on August 7 for those who may need assistance.

  • Registration for busing will also take place during the registration process.

Please remember that our plan to return to on-site instruction in August is subject to change. Based on the guidance we receive from the Governor, the Iowa Department of Education, and Linn County Public Health, there may be a need to modify the plan. As we update and change the plan, we will communicate these changes. Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to welcoming students back.


Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent