Shen School District closes in response to coronavirus threat

The Shenandoah Community School District will close for the next four weeks in response to the coronavirus threat.

Shenandoah School Superintendent Dr. Kerri Nelson announced the closing during a special board meeting on March 16. Nelson’s decision was based on Governor Kim Reynolds’ recommendation that all Iowa Schools close for four weeks to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“At the same time, we all have to be mindful and cognizant that the information is changing so rapidly that this could be four weeks, this could be six. It could be much longer. It would be a blessing if it all stopped at four weeks at this point.”

Nelson set a tentative reopening date of April 13.

Nelson said until further notice, no district or non-district sponsored events will be held on school grounds. Also, all school activities, field trips, athletics, practices, and events are canceled until further notice.

Nelson said the administrative team met Monday, March 16, to discuss how the school district can provide meals to students on a delivery type basis.

State legislation will not require the lost school time to be made up.

“This does relieve some of the concern about closing for several weeks and will allow us to continue to plan for an end date,” said Nelson.

Nelson said that the Iowa Director of Education, Ann Lebo, notified districts that the U.S. Department of Education notified states in new guidance that it will consider targeted, one-year waivers of the assessment requirement for those schools impacted by COVID-19.

“The Iowa Department of Education does plan to pursue the waiver as it will benefit and provide relief to Iowa Schools,” said Nelson.

Nelson said the Shenandoah School District is scheduled to take the ISASP assessment the week of April 13 - 17. This is the same week the district is scheduled to resume classes.

“Whether relief comes in the form of a waiver or the ability to reschedule the assessment, it would benefit our schools,” said Nelson.

The district is also looking into what they can do to help hourly support staff receive pay during this time of closure.

Nelson said when classes resume, the district will be taking preventative measures. She said the district would restrict staff and students that were sick from entering the buildings.

“Moving forward, we’re always strict about this, but we need to avoid people who are sick,” said Nelson. “Keeping social distance and avoiding large groups of people is critical.”

Nelson said at this time building access for the Shenandoah Community School District is being limited to direct personnel who are specifically assigned to work right now.

“Tomorrow, forward through the end of spring break, I am asking administrative and secretarial staff to work from home,” said Nelson. “Then, we’ll decide about the following three weeks.”

Shenandoah Community School district is on spring break March 16 – 20.

Nelson said custodial and kitchen staff would be necessary to provide food service for the community during the school closure.

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