Education

This playbook provides guidelines for public and private K-12 schools, community colleges and universities inOttumwa and Wapello County. Specific university departments are encouraged to consult the playbooks for other industries that are closely related to their own core services as appropriate.

Current Impacts

With schools closed for the safety of students, teachers and staff, educators have rolled out virtual learning for the remaining months of the 2019-2020 school year. Federal testing requirements were waived for all 50 states in recognition that students face different challenges while learning from home. Additionally, Gov. Kim Reynolds suspended high school graduation requirements for seniors. One of the largest challenges faced by Ottumwa and Wapello County students is a lack of access to hgh-speed internet, particularly in some rural areas. Some educators expect that online learning will result in lower test scores as well as an enrollment decline of 15%. Across the state, nearly all colleges and universities moved to online instruction, with the exception of some technical and lab courses that will be completed at a later date.

  • Lack of High-Speed internet
  • Lower Test Scoresfor students
  • Suspended Graduation requirements

Future Trends

Optional Standardized Testing

A growing number of universities across the United States are making standardized testing requirements, such as the ACT, SAT or AP scores, optional for 2021 applicants. These include Ivy League schools like Cornell University and Harvard College. Universities say that they are waiving the testing requirements because they are unable to predict what economic or personal disruptions students will experience. The schools say that students "will not be disadvantaged in any way if [they] do not submit subject tests."

Voluntary Learning

Since Gov. Reynolds declared all schools closed through the remainder of the school year, districts have submitted plans for handling distance learning. Many high schools submitted plans requiring high school students to learn virtually, while lower grades would be offered the opportunity to participate in voluntary enrichment programs.

University Classes in Fall 2020

Universities across the nation are preparing contingency plans for resuming classes in 2020. Many universities have moved their summer instruction online and are hopeful that in-person classes can resume on campus in the fall. However, Harvard epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding states that universities need to make various plans for delayed start and even intermittent closings and re-openings that could last through 2022 should coronavirus outbreaks continue.

Online Learning

Schoolsin Wapello County began transforming themselves into fully online learning environments in March, and may continue to do so intermittently throughout the next school year. In order to prepare for online learning, schools should use the summer break to prepare teacher and student instructions for online teaching tools and to develop new teacher and student performance metrics. Additionally, schools should prepare feedback surveys to send to students during online learning semesters to assess a student’s level of learning and instructor performance. Instructors should use the feedback to modify their approaches and/or tools used (Google Hangouts versus Blackboard, discussion boards versus essays, etc.) to fit students’ needs until online teaching becomes more familiar.

Recommended Practices

Health & Sanitation

  • Conduct a health screening with all employees before their shifts in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • Screen children upon arrival. See detailed CDC screening methods for childcare providers.
  • Have a plan if someone becomes sick and require sick children and staff to stay home.
  • Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • When feasible, staff members and older children should wear face coverings within the facility.
  • Encourage vulnerable staff to talk to their healthcare provider to assess their risk and determine if they should stay at home.
  • Universities should prepare to have quarantine spaces available for students who become infected with COVID-19. These should not be shared dormitory rooms with community bathrooms.

Space & Process

  • Limit number of people in each room according to updated public guidelines.
  • If possible, classes should include the same group each day, and the same instructors should remain with the same group each day.
  • Limit the mixing of children, such as staggering lunch times and keeping groups separate for other class activities.
  • Set up hand hygiene stations at the entrance of the facility, so that children can clean their hands before they enter. If possible, place sign-in stations outside, and provide sanitary wipes for cleaning pens between each use.
  • Consider staggering arrival and drop off times and plan to limit contact with parents as much as possible.
  • Ideally, the same parent or designated person should drop off and pick up the child every day. If possible, older people such as grandparents or those with serious underlying medical conditions should not pick up children, because they are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Develop a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting. Routinely clean, sanitize and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, like doorknobs, light switches, bathroom facilities, countertops, desks, chairs and lockers.
  • If a cafeteria or group dining room is used for meals, serve meals in a classroom instead. Plate each child's meal to serve so that multiple children are not using the same utensils.
  • For now, all athletic events, large lectures and other large gatherings will have to remain online or be canceled.
  • Universities should adopt contact tracing apps to protect student health if a COVID-19 case emerges on campus.

Communication

  • Communicate to parents the importance of keeping children home when they are sick.
  • Communicate to staff the importance of being vigilant for symptoms and staying in touch with facility management if or when they start to feel sick.
  • Place posters describing handwashing steps near sinks.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns to the employer.
  • Develop a communications plan for sharing announcements and news with students, faculty, staff, school boards, government officials, communities served by the school, associations and any accreditation bodies.

Additional Resources